Quote of the Day

Friday, December 31, 2010

Good News For Fans Of Hymn For Her

Now that my e-mail is back up again, I was pleased to hear from the duo Hymn For Her. They have posted their tour dates for 2011, and they will be returning to Ella's Folk Art Cafe on March 20 from 4 to 7 that afternoon.

We caught their performance at Ella's earlier this year and we were simply blown away. I am still amazed that just two people can generate so much fantastic music.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Visions Of Ones And Zeros Dance In My Head

Heavy drinking accompanied by vulgar language has been the order of the day for me this last week of 2010. So what's new some insensitive acquaintances may ask? To them I say, "posh and piffle," because I have a good excuse. I have replaced my dying Windows XP desktop with a super-duper Windows 7 model.

While the installation of hardware went swimmingly, software was an entirely different matter. The Win 7 64 bit thingy, with 8 gazillion jackhammers of ones and zeros was more than slightly perturbed when I endeavored to load some older apps. I was disappointed to lose MasterCook and Micrografx Picture Publisher, but I had prepared myself for that in advance (see: heavy drinking).

What I wasn't prepared for was Hewlett Packard's tech support and customer service refusing to assist with a driver upgrade when their web site failed to download said drivers. A less than helpful support person did volunteer to assist for a $39 charge, and she did assure me that if she was not successful that I would still be charged. There was still another option I was told. It was suggested that I simply buy a new device, and for an additional fee HP would be overjoyed to take back my old device for recycling. Yeah, right! I pulled the plug on the chat session, uttered a few vulgar words, consumed an adult beverage, and vowed never to do business with HP again.

As of this morning, everything computer, minus the HP device, seems to be perky. I am now screaming down the information super highway. While I will never recommend any HP product, there is a lot to be said for heavy drinking and vulgar language, especially when involved with technical stuff. You will not find that advice in any text book. That knowledge comes from 30 years in telecommunications with GTE Florida and Verizon Communications. And, you are welcome.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Stewart: A Modern Day Murrow?

"Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause?"

Read the complete article from the New York Times.

My opinion: It is a sad commentary on this nation's Republican party with their Pledge to America, and their "principles" when it takes a comedian to press for doing the right thing.



***

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Florida Governor-elect Inaugural Ball

From the Palm Beach Post News, "Gov.-elect Rick Scott has resurrected the inaugural ball after an eight-year hiatus and plans two days of festivities in the capital city and around the state to celebrate his Jan. 4 [coronation]."

The theme of Scott's two plus million dollar encomium to his own greatness?



To the 1.3% majority of delusional voters who put this clown in office, I think this ball is a portent of what you can expect for the next four years. So, unless you have millions of dollars stashed away somewhere, then you are one of the poor. And, you know what they say about the poor.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Food: Prime Dining At Fleming's

My bride and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary on the 22nd, and since we considered this to be some sort of milestone, we wanted to dine at someplace special. After tossing about a few ideas, we finally decided that Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar on Boy Scout Road should be graced with our presence. Lucky them, and as it turned out, lucky us.

To make the evening even more special, I arranged transportation to and from Fleming's with Cab Plus, an up-scale taxi service that utilizes immaculate Lincoln Town cars. Actually, we use Cab Plus for all of our taxi needs in Tampa.

Upon arrival at Fleming's we walked in to a well appointed interior, and since reservations were made in advance, we were promptly seated, and service began before our derrières had even warmed the seat cushions. Jon was our most attentive server for the evening, and he recommended the Tenderloin Carpaccio to go with our glasses of Mionetto sparkling wine. Jon said the carpaccio was the best he had ever tasted. We join him in praise of this appetizer served with caper creole mustard sauce, and a basil chiffonade.

To compliment our entrée selections, I chose a bottle of a slightly smoky, yet jammy Château Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine paired well with my bone-in Prime Ribeye, and my bride's bone-in Filet Mignon. Yes, I said a bone-in Filet Mignon. We have never before been offered such a thing, and since Jon said they are not always available, we had to try it. Oh my gosh, it was perfection on a plate. I had a taste, and it was by far the best Filet Mignon I have ever had. My bone-in ribeye ranked right up there with the best, and both steaks were perfectly prepared and seasoned. Neither steak required any additional sauces or condiments.

For sides, my bride ordered the Baked Potato, and I requested the Grilled High Country Asparagus. Both were delicious, but it should be mentioned that the side dishes are large enough for two to share. Jon warned us, but we decided to be little piglets anyway.

Not that we really needed anything more to eat and drink, but Jon forced us to order dessert, the Turtle Pie for her, and the Creme Brulee for me. Well, maybe he didn't force us exactly, but we were pleased that we ordered these two excellent desserts. To compliment these sweet dishes we chose two glasses of a twenty year old Taylor Fladgate Tawny Port.

While Jon prepared our check, I called for our limo, and by the time we made it to the door, our chariot awaited. Our bill for the evening came to $276.93, and we left a well deserved 20% gratuity.

We enjoyed a grand evening at Fleming's.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mark Sharpe: The Panhandler's Grinch



When I first heard of Sharpe's suggestion to ticket the motorists who give to panhandlers on our city's intersections, I thought that was truly a dumb idea. That seemed like a dumb idea anyway until my working spouse related a tale of utter stupidity that she witnessed on the way to work the other day during morning rush hour.

Picture this: You are north bound on Dale Mabry, and are stopped at the light at the Gandy intersection. You are third in line in the far left turn lane. The light changes, you have the green turn arrow, and all cars that can move quickly begin to move. Just as the black Lexus in the lead makes the turn, this ball-busting idiot slams on her brakes, sticks her arm out the window to give a loaf of bread to the "professional" panhandler standing on the median. Tires squeal, and horns blow at this "Good Samaritan" who came close to causing a multi-car pile up. All of this for a loaf of bread to a person who is probably neither hungry nor homeless. That is a family business at that intersection!

If this is the lame brain motorist Sharpe is looking to ticket, I say "more power to you." If this brand of stupidity isn't fined then at least the perp should be severely whacked about the head and shoulders with a stale loaf of bread.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The 22nd On The 22nd

It was twenty two years ago today that we stood on the corner of Morgan and Twiggs just outside of the GTE building at the start of our lunch break. We had a large breakfast at the "Bug and Germ" food emporium across the street that morning, and neither of us were all that hungry. "So, what do you want to do," I asked? She shrugged her shoulders, and we just stood there. "We could get something to eat, or we could walk over to the courthouse, and get a marriage license," I suggested. "I'm really not hungry," she offered.

Rather than eating lunch we got our marriage license during our thirty minute break. That afternoon after work we went to a neighborhood pawn shop and got a couple of gold bands. I went to the ABC on Gandy and picked up a bottle of scotch while my bride-to-be contacted our sister and daughter who volunteered to be witnesses. We had already asked a coworker who is a notary to perform the rituals. After a couple of shots of scotch to steel our nerves, we did the deed - twenty two heavenly years ago.

Tom, Seestor, me, my trophy bride, and our daughter

Happy anniversary to you Baby
  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

If you haven't seen this Jimmy Stewart movie, you are missing a good one.

Mr. Smith is a political virgin who finds himself in a Washington senatorial cesspool, not unlike the current one. To right a wrong, and to vindicate himself he filibusters on the senate floor - for hours and hours. He filibusters to the point of collapse, but he wins in the end.

I cheered for Mr. Smith, and naively thought I was seeing a real filibuster in action. Was I ever mistaken. Please, take the time to read the following inculcating article, and sign the petition.

From the Daily KOS:

A real filibuster

Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 01:00:04 PM PST

Whether or not you think we should abolish or weaken the filibuster, there is one thing we can all agree on: the filibuster should be a real filibuster. If Senators are going to prevent a nomination or piece of legislation from receiving an up or down vote, they should have to take to the well of the Senate and engage in an all-night talk-a-thon explaining their position.
Right now, Senators can filibuster by heading off to dinner, going to the dentist, or any other form of simply not showing up.  The filibuster is painless, and does not require any effort.
It’s time for that to change. And, on January 5th, only a simple majority of Senators can make that change. As such, Daily Kos is teaming up with two of the leaders of the Senate rules reform effort--Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Tom Udall--to show all Senators there is broad grassroots support for making the filibuster a real filibuster.
Senators Merkley and Udall have said they will use your show of support to help make the case to their colleagues that the filibuster should become a real filibuster. We will get the petition to them, and they will take it from there.
So please, sign the petition to make the filibuster a real filibuster. It’s unacceptable that the filibuster is so painless. At a minimum, that must change in this round of rules reform.

Republican Christmas Humor

This latest attempt at e-mail humor floating around the 'net might have been funny if the Republicans had done anything they could be proud of, but what the hell:

To My Democratic Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. 

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than neither any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere

Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Ha – ha!

And, please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, our gratitude for your GOP leaders in congress who stood up against those whiny 9/11 first responders who are asking for the unrealistic sum of seven billion dollars to cover their alleged health issues. This is an especially egregious request this Christmas season in light of the vital 700 billion dollar bail out of the impoverished billionaires in this great Republican land. 

It gladdens our heart that your man, Jon Kyl, R - douche-bag, deemed this most holy of Christian holidays too important to the Republican families in Washington to be forced to remain in session over that silly Zagroda billwhile extending a holiday "tough titty" to all Americans in uniform who will be working during this holiest of Christian holidays.

Our wish is for a lump of coal in every congressional Republican stocking hung on the mantle with little care and great disdain. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Panhandling: A Lucrative Profession

“Ya know, Babe,” said my beautiful bride, “you are looking real scruffy lately. Your hair is unkempt, your face hasn’t felt a razor in several weeks, you haven’t changed out of that ratty outfit for longer than I care to remember, and you are getting a little smelly. Just because you are unemployed isn’t a good reason to let yourself go to hell.” I just smiled at her and said, “Au contraire, mi esposa, I am employed and I start my new job tomorrow.” Incredulously she asked, “Doing what?”

I had to explain that I had been inspired by the story of Robin Marie Stoveland. “Who?” queried my spouse. I reminded her of a recent article in the St. Pete Times about one of the entrepreneurs who is making her mark in the Tampa business community.

It seems that Ms. Stoveland has created a rather lucrative business for herself. She operates out of an RV parked alongside a busy Tampa intersection. She has one employee, a live-in gentleman whose main job may be to endeavor not to be a repeat offender while ensuring the security of the RV. Ms. Stoveland is the Chief Exectutive Panhandler, and her business plan is to solicit funds from gullible motorists passing her base of operations, a Tampa street corner that she has claimed as her own for several years.

While it took me two years to get through a college paralegal program before I was able to land a $15 per hour job at a diet drug defense law firm, Ms. Stoveland has parlayed her unique skills into a profession that, by her own admission, hauls in some $85 in a mere five hours. That comes to a remarkable $17 an hour, and she accomplishes this feat without having had to endure endless lectures, legal research and writing, mid-terms, finals, and maintaining a 4.0 GPA. While it is only hearsay at this time, it has been rumored that Ms. Stoveland has struck a deal with the IRS to classify her enterprise as a tax exempt entity that accepts gifts in lieu of profits.

“That is monumentally astounding,” gushed my spouse, “so what will you be doing?” To which I responded, “Well, you know that family of…uh…entrepreneurs who work the Gandy and Dale Mabry intersection? I will be interning with them for awhile, and if I can bring in enough dough…er, capital, then for a percentage I may be allowed to work the MacDill Avenue and Interbay intersection...I mean market. Isn’t that grand?”

***
As an update to this story, the buzz around the bay is that the Chamber of Commerce is pondering the possibility of naming Stoveland it's Business Woman of the Year for her efforts in creating a start-up business without needing to bother with submitting a fictitious name, obtaining city and county occupational licenses, and other annoyances that plague lesser entrepreneurs while still turning a tidy profit. Congratulations Ms. Stoveland!     

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunny Beach It's Cold!

Winter is just getting started in Central Florida, but I have enjoyed as much of it as I can stand. I should probably just cowboy myself up, and quit whining, because it could be worse.

Like our neighbors in the far north, we could wake up one morning here in SOG City and find two feet of snow in front of the house.

Then what would we do?

Photographer unknown

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gimme Shelter: At TDY's

We checked radar weather this past Saturday before heading out the door on our five mile walk. The bands of showers appeared to be several miles off shore in the Gulf, so we figured there would be plenty of time to get physically fit. I'd like to mention here that physical fitness sucks!

Two miles into our hike we felt rain drops falling on our punkin heads. Looking behind us we saw heavy rains fast approaching. Thankfully we were only a half block away from a strip mall at the corner of Interbay and Bayshore. We ran for this shelter as fast as we could and just made it.

The rain showed no sign of letting up any time soon. Now what? This strip mall has a convenience store, is home to the Cellini restaurant (which wasn't open yet), and TDY's Sports Pub. We learned some time ago in Key West that if your outdoor plans get rained out there is always a Plan B. Let's drink! So, we headed off to TDY's to do just that.

TDY's is a neighborhood beer joint/sports bar. This is a dimly lit establishment that has a warm comfortable feel with friendly patrons and really cold beer. We sat at the bar and ordered a couple of brewskis while our eyes adjusted to our surroundings. The bar is surrounded by large screen, in focus, TVs making this an ideal spot on game day. There were a couple of crusty bearded gentlemen sitting to our left that I have since discovered are fixtures at that spot at the bar. Farther down, we spied a neighbor friend of ours who always waves to us  when we are out walking.

There was a chalk board at the far end of the bar showing Today's Special - Shepard's Pie. I had no idea that TDY's served food. On a subsequent visit I discovered that they do have a food menu, most of which is typical pub grub - hamburgers, hot dogs and such. The real surprise is the breakfast menu. While the burgers are tasty, what I am really looking forward to on our next visit is breakfast with a Bud. I can't think of a better way to start the day.

TDY's is not fancy. You will not find wood paneling and fern baskets hanging from the ceiling. What you will find is a great little neighborhood tavern situated in the heart of SOG City.

Cheers and Bon Appetite, y'all.

TDY's Sports Pub on Urbanspoon 

Tdy's Pub on Foodio54

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So Much For Our Winter Vacation In Cancun

Tuesday morning, for a brief time, it was actually as cold in Cancun as it was on Prince Edward Island, Canada! That is just criminal, and somebody needs to be held accountable. 

Hmmm? Cold, Cancun, Canada - they all begin with a 'C' the same as "conspiracy." There is evil afoot here, I can feel it all the way down to my butt-crack cleavage. 


Icicles cling to oranges Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, in Dover, Fla. Farmers sprayed a fine mist of water on their crops to help protect the fruit from the sub-freezing temperatures. Temperatures in central Florida dipped into the 20s. 
(AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Reason For The Season

...to have a gay old time.



After this rousing performance, all twelve left the stage bound for the local Army recruiting office. Sadly, all twelve were rejected.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Quivering Lip Of The House

On a national television program last night I witnessed a performance that would have been comical if it were not so disgusting. Lesley Stahl interviewed incoming Republican House speaker John Boehner, R - Pusswad, on 60 Minutes (CBS). During the interview, this "leader" of the House broke down into blubbering sobs not once, but several times.

This fit of emotion from Boehner is not an isolated incident. Apparently the Boehner lower lip starts quivering, the eyes well up with tears, the face contorts, his voice breaks, and he starts sobbing at the drop of a hat. I will not disagree with the contention that, "Real men do cry." It is not unmanly to show emotion and compassion, but to burst out blubbering like a baby for no reason?

I am not a medical professional, but Boehner's performance, not only on 60 Minutes, but on the House floor, in front of a world audience, strikes me as being a sign of severe emotional insecurity, and possibly manic depression.

It is one thing that this man is set to become House speaker, but he will also be second in order of presidential succession. Were something unfortunate to befall President Obama and Vice President Biden, then Boehner would become the most powerful cry baby in the free world.

The United States has already lost a great deal of prestige among world leaders. I don't think Boehner's irrational mood swings do anything to polish our image. If Boehner is the best that the Republican party can offer, then this country is in serious trouble. The only house Boehner needs to be in is the nut house.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Fighting Fairies Banned

In today's news, the Republican Senate has turned back efforts to remove the Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) measure. The front page headline in the morning paper read, "Ban on gays in military stands." That is a Hershey Squirt moment for the GOP, and they deserve the SOG City Oracle Hershey Squirt Award for their Neanderthal thinking. I have yet to read or hear any logical argument for keeping DADT in place.

There are gays currently serving in all branches of the military. There could be one sitting on a crapper right next to you in an open bay latrine at this very minute. You may have showered with one or more of them this morning. You have dined with them in the chow hall, and swapped MRE pouches with them in the field. One of them might have saved your life just now on the field of battle, but somehow all of this takes on a new persona if you know they are gay? You know they are there. You know that you have served with them. So, knowing for certain that a person is gay is really going to make a difference in your attitude and morale?

I proudly served my country in the U.S. Army and later in the U.S. Air Force (Florida Air National Guard). I knew for a fact that some of my fellow soldiers and airmen were redneck assholes, but while in uniform we were all on the same team; we all had the same mission to accomplish. I did not allow my personal feelings to interfere with the task at hand. When off duty, we all went our separate ways. You can't tell me that straights and gays in the military can't and don't do that already.

Just for grins and giggles, let's ponder a rather outrageous scenario based upon a few numbers. There are approximately 1.3 million Americans serving in the military. National averages suggest that some 10%, or 130,000, are gay. What consequences can you imagine if all 130,000, and any potential recruits, came out of the closet - in unison? For one thing, military admin offices around the world would be up to their eyeballs with out-processing paperwork. Looking at the "big picture," a rebellion of this magnitude just possibly would force the homophobes in Congress and the military to re-evaluate their misplaced priorities.

This country is still involved in two George Bush wars. Can our military afford to lose 130,000, or more, over sexual orientation?

***

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Republican Banquet

I finally got around to alphabetizing my CD collection this week, and in the process I came across a couple of Joni Mitchell albums I hadn't listened to in a long while. To correct this oversight, I popped them into the player, and sat back to enjoy this very gifted singer/songwriter. One song in particular struck a cord.

Though recorded in 1972, Joni Mitchell's Banquet from the For The Roses album sadly describes the America of today: "Who let the greedy in, And who left the needy out [...] And some get nothing, Though there's plenty to spare." Take a listen and see what you think.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

America: Land of the Fat, Home of the Average

Americans have long touted themselves as being the best of the best, Numero Uno, head and shoulders above all other nations. If current trends continue, though, we will find ourselves on top of the heap of the fat, and the illiterate. Am I being harsh and judgmental? I certainly hope so, because if this once great nation of ours doesn't experience a wake-up call real soon we will become known world-wide as the nation of the moronically obese.

BMI Map
Consider this: Obesity is defined as having a BMI (body mass index) of 30% or greater. Where are we right now? An estimated 32.7 percent of U.S. adults 20 years and older are overweight, 34.3 percent are obese and 5.9 percent are extremely obese. An estimated 16.9% of children and adolescents aged 2–19 years are obese.

If you care to dispute these figures then the next time you are at the mall, a ballgame, or most especially a buffet restaurant, take a gander at the guts around you.




As if being a nation of fatties isn't enough, we are now raising a batch of children who are barely average in student achievement compared to other countries. Our children are average in reading and science, and below average in math. 



Which countries are at or near the top in test scores? The Chinese city of Shanghai topped the rankings with South Korea, Japan, Finland, and Switzerland not too far behind. Finland has, arguably, the best education system in the world. We are still bickering over ours.

The big question should be "who is going to get left behind if we, as a country, don't shape up?" I think the facts and figures from the CDC and test scores from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development answer that question. It is us! 
If we don't start embracing intellectualism instead of demonizing it, we will wind up being the biggest (in more ways than one) third world country on Earth with the shortest life span. And, don't even get me started on our abysmal standings in world health care. That is nothing to be proud of, either.

What might we do to solve these problems? To start, toss all of those diet books and pills into the garbage, push away from the table a little sooner, and most of all - get off your butt, away from the TV and computer games, and EXERCISE! Additionally, we should swallow our pride and look at what other countries are successfully accomplishing in the fields of healthcare and education, and emulate them.

Arrogance and denial are not benchmarks of national pride.

***

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cabdrivers Must Wear Socks

I awoke to a beautiful, sunny, albeit colder than a beldame's breast, kind of morning. With my coffee and morning edition of the St. Pete Times in hand, I climbed back into my warm bed with a desire to become erudite on current events.

Be still my beating heart! There in the Tampa Bay section I read that Florida's most vexing problems have been solved and that the state is now a virtual utopia. Property and homeowners taxes have been reduced to manageable levels, there are now jobs aplenty, developers have agreed not to pave over the state, foreclosures are a thing of the past, healthcare is affordable for all, and there is money to burn for the state budget.

You missed all of that, you say? It was right there on page 1B with the headline in bold print, Storms slams sock rule. You may have to do a little between-the-lines reading, but I swear it was all there. Florida State Senator Ronda Storms, R-Ditz, having helped solve all of Florida's ills, has turned her attention to a most pressing issue: the Public Transportation Commission rule that cabdrivers must wear socks. Said Storms, "They have a rule that cabbies have to wear socks. I mean, please. Come on."

Yeah, really Ronda, come on!

We can only hope that when Florida Goobernor-elect Scott takes over the office he bought that he will offer Storms one of those 700,000 jobs he plans on creating. She obviously has nothing much to do in her current position.

For more on Storms, click on the Ronda Storms blog.

Last Night's Dinner

After a hard day's night when you've been working like a harlot, you probably aren't going to feel like cooking a big dinner. I know that I didn't, so I decided to make like a Napoletana prostitute and whip up a batch of pasta puttanesca.

This dish is so easy even a guy can do it, and with the addition of extra-virgin olive oil this is about all you need:


You can find puttanesca recipes splattered all over the 'net, but the Pasta Puttanesca from Aprilanne Hurley comes real close to mine. As an added benefit, I won't be crapping up the Internet with one more version of somebody else's recipe.

I have never tried puttanesca with tuna as suggested by Aprilanne. I think the anchovies make the dish, and for those who think they don't like anchovies, not to worry. They melt in the oil and just add a subtle saltiness to the sauce. I also like to add fresh chopped Italian parsley and basil to the sauce as a last step. But, what the heck! You are the chef, make it your own.

Buon appetito, y'all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5, 1933

Sanity returns to America! Too bad it didn't stay very long. Nonetheless, let's raise a glass of cheer in celebration.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Republican

I am an avid follower of Jeff Tone's blog, The Liberal Curmudgeon. You will find a link to that blog in the right-hand column of the Oracle.

Mr. Tone posted an article recently that should be required reading for the millions of uninsured Americans who voted Republican during the midterms (click below to view full article):

Anti-Health Reform Rep. Andy Harris Complains About Waiting For His Gov't. Health Care


Friday, December 3, 2010

Seasons Greetings From The GOP

The GOP (Goobers On Parade) is the epitome of the Will Rogers aphorism, "Government is the problem, elect us and we will prove it to you." Well, they got elected and they are only just beginning to prove it to us.

In less than 24 hours after President Obama met with Republican congressional leaders and expressed hope for a "new dialog," Senate Republicans threatened to block any legislation until these petulant little children get their way on the tax cuts for the wealthy. In the spirit of the season, this threat comes just as the unemployment benefits are beginning to run out for some 2,000,000 Americans. Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry Christmas from the GOP.

What should infuriate all Americans, especially those who voted Republican, is that these people were elected to legislate, not block legislation. Our tax dollars pay their salaries, and they are not getting paid to sit around with their thumbs up their butts.

Dammit, get to work and do your job!

*** 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bring Our Troops Home For Christmas

Enough is enough, and this country has had enough of this damn Bush war. We have not achieved our original objective, and have even abandoned that objective in favor of nation building. Nation building is not a job for our military, so bring them home and really make the season special. That would be a great gift to find next to the tree.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Burlesque at the Cobb CineBistro

Watching 64 year old Cherilyn Sarkisian on the movie screen this past Saturday was tantamount to enjoying a bottle of Domaine Romanée-Conti, arguably the most rarefied and expensive wine in the world. This wine, like the actress better known as Cher, just gets better with age.

We booked the 
matinée showing of the movie Burlesque at the Cobb CineBistro in Hyde Park and were treated to an entertaining and lavishly produced movie that was vaguely reminiscent of the Busby Berkeley musicals of the 1930s. 
photo
Photo from Burlesque web site


This Cher and Christina Aguilera pairing had the hallmark Berkeley clichés: The hard-nosed Broadway director dying for a hit - in this case, Cher's character trying to save her club from foreclosure; an egotistical star breaks an ankle making way for - Christina Aguilera, the small town girl from Iowa yearning for a big break (no pun intended, as there was no broken ankle); the unknown but talented chorus kid who takes over the starring role and triumphs. Not only did Aguilera's character take over the starring role, but she also saved the club from foreclosure.

Like the musicals from the thirties, Burlesque was not a deep, dark, enigmatic mélange of computer graphic imagery nor was it one of those horrific and ubiquitous 3D disasters. Burlesque is an entertaining, feel-good movie that can lift the spirits of a disheartened American audience not unlike the Berkeley musicals did for the depression era audiences many years ago.

The production sequences were spectacular, and like earlier musicals the stage tended to grow larger as the dance numbers progressed. The vocals were superb with Aguilera's Tough Lover and Cher's You Haven't Seen The Last Of Me being two stand-outs. 



photo
Photo from Burlesque web site





As usual, the Hyde Park Cobb CineBistro was the perfect venue for enjoying a really good movie and some tasty food. We ordered a bucket of beer and a couple of their juicy hamburgers. Then we sat back in the plush, cozy seats and enjoyed the show.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Never Too Old To Rock

It would be sacrilegious to refer to Loretta Lynn as an old fart, even though she is in her mid-seventies. You certainly wouldn't know that by listening to her rock out with Jack White on a cut from her 2004 Van Lear Rose album.



Van Lear Rose is one the the most progressive and entertaining albums I have ever heard by Loretta Lynn, and it is a prized CD in my collection. This is also the first time that this country music legend has written the lyrics for all songs on an album.

I mentioned once before that I love it when a "senior citizen" scores. Loretta Lynn scored big on the Van Lear Rose. Proof, I think, that you are only as old as you feel.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Old Farts Rule!

I love the blues, and I love it when an old guy scores. Buddy Guy damn sure scores on his Living Proof album. I downloaded it yesterday from Amazon and it has some kick-ass blues with a message.

The message: I am 74 years young, and I can still kick ass.



You can buy Living Proof as an MP3, a CD, or vinyl. I got the MP3 download, but vinyl? CDs on are the way out, and I read that vinyl may be making a comeback. I am not sure I am ready for that. I converted my vinyl library to CDs years ago. The thought of going back to vinyl gives me and my wallet the tremors. I do miss vinyl, though.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

A recent post-election survey of American voters gives me cause for thanks on this Thanksgiving eve:

51% of registered voters want Congress to keep the new health care law and possibly expand it. This is despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the American people to kill the bill.

The same survey also shows that a majority of voters side with the Democrats on extending the tax cuts for only those making less than $250,000 per year.

So much for Boehner and the Republican party mandate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

***

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Land of the Free, Home of the Delusional

As much as I hate to say it, "Ludicrousness is alive and well in our fair land."

Case in point: New Jersey passed a tough bill against bullying that requires schools and colleges to adopt anti-bullying programs and codes of conduct. What is wrong with that you may ask. Nothing! Anti-bullying laws should be mandatory all across America, but that is not the point here.

Groups of social conservatives in New Jersey opposed this bill...wait for it...here it comes...on the grounds that education provisions would legitimize gay marriage and force children to be taught about homosexuality in schools.

Better to have the school bully beat the crap out of little Billy or drive him to suicide than to have him turned into a fairy...right? It doesn't stop in New Jersey, there is more.

How about the fans of Dancing With The Stars getting their bloomers in a bunch over the possibility of a Bristol Palin win or loss? Where is all the righteous indignation over the fact that thousands - many, many thousands - of our American servicemen and women have died or come home with shattered minds and bodies from two insane and pointless wars?

You do know we are still involved in two wars, don't you? And, you aren't just sitting on your fat ass in front of the tube watching DWTS; you are supporting the war effort, right? Faded bumper stickers and torn American flags flapping from your car window don't count as support. That is just lip service.

While I am on a rant, my bride (who was there) said that travelers in the United Kingdom were getting fondled by airport security even back in 1975. So what makes us so special? Do we think the screeners get their jollies feeling up people who may have questionable hygiene habits? Who knows, this might be the only opportunity for intimacy that some of you will get all year. So, America, just quit whining, close your eyes and enjoy the moment. If it is really good you might be able to request a re-pat.

The body scanners bring up another interesting issue. Some of us are offended by the thought of someone looking at an image of our naked bodies. Here is a suggestion: get naked, look at yourself in the mirror (at home, please) and image how traumatized the screener is after a day of looking at wrinkled, pot-bellied grouches, with wads of flab oozing over their belts. Look around yourself at the airport and imagine these people naked. Are you getting sexually aroused?

Besides, if the TSA were to relax security measures and a plane was brought down by terrorists the uproar around the country would be deafening...and, it would all be Obama's fault, because that's how it is in the land of the free and the home of the delusional.

By the by, did you know that the boner from Ohio, John Boehner (R-I am one of you, sorta), can skip security? Being royalty doth have its privileges, but he doesn't know what he is missing.

***

Monday, November 22, 2010

Food: For a Gourmet Burger - It's Back to Square One

The best burger I ever had in my whole life? I thought you would never ask. Without a doubt or a moment's hesitation, that would be the Decadent Daddy at Square One Burgers at 3701 North Henderson Boulevard in Tampa.

The Daddy is a fat Kobe beef burger slathered with caramelized onions, curly leaf lettuce, brie, and sun dried tomato mayo piled on a whole wheat bun. I always order mine rare to medium rare. To order Kobe beef any other way should be considered a heinous crime subject to a horrible punishment. This burger has consistently been tender, juicy, and so flavorful that I drool at the mere thought. This is a somewhat messy burger, so the diner needs to be mindful of the heavenly juices dribbling down the arms.



We have also enjoyed the All-American burger, a 100% patty of Angus beef on a sesame seed bun with curly leaf lettuce, a slice of American cheese, beefsteak tomato, red onion and mayo. The All-American is another winner for us; although, for me the Kobe burger is the epitome of a gourmet hamburger.

You may choose to build your own burger at Square One. We have never tried that, though. Besides, I could not improve on the Decadent Daddy. All burgers and sandwiches come with your choice of fries, steamed broccoli, or coleslaw. For a few shekels more you may upgrade to the sweet potato fries. We usually upgrade because those sweet tater fries are really tasty.

The Square One menu is loaded with choices beyond just burgers; however, except for the beer we have never gotten past the burger section. Speaking of which, Square One has an excellent selection of beers, and a full bar. The wine list is a bit limited, but the choices are good, and the prices are very reasonable.


Square One is not a fast food, "Y'all want fries with that burger?" kind of place. The surroundings are attractive, comfortable, and the servers come to you. It may be that we lead a charmed life, but on all of our visits service has been prompt and courteous. My only negative (there always has to be one of those, I guess) is that when the place is packed, parking can be a challenge.

Square One Burgers on Urbanspoon



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Food: Five Guys and Two Burgers

Somebody once said, "He who tooteth not his own horn gets his own horn tootethed not," or something to that effect. I think it was me who said that while on a toot back during my wild and crazy youth.

It can't be said that Five Guys Burgers and Fries doesn't toot their horn. They have signs all over the joint blaring out as to how wonderful are their burgers and stuff. Heaven on a bun; Willy Wonkas of burgercraft; The Fine Dining of Hamburgers? Give me a break!

These same five guys seem to have stores all over the country, and this past Sunday, in a moment of "What the hell were we thinking?" we dropped in to their store at 4304 South Dale Mabry in Tampa. I am certain that every store is the same as every other Five Guys store. I doubt that this location is any better or worse than any other, but I am only going to comment on this one in south Tampa.

The store is bright, shiny, and Spartan with white walls and red and white tile work. My dining partner and I went up the the counter and ordered a cheeseburger for her and a hamburger for me with a side of regular French fries, a Coke and a cup of iced green tea. There was a short wait until our number was called out and we returned to the counter to pick up our order.

Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the burgers are not prepared as ordered. I ordered my burger cooked just medium rare. One of the guys behind the counter said that he and the other four guys only cook their meat well done -  presumably to protect us all from some dreaded, exotic meat disease that can add flavor to their burgers.

My bride is good with that because she always orders her burgers "hockey puck" done. Other than that one little issue, both of us agreed that the Five Guys burgers were absolutely the most...uh, "Why did we do this?" like burgers we have ever had. To put it another way, it's not good, it's not bad, it's just uninspired fast food that doesn't live up to the hype.

There really are some gourmet hamburger places in Tampa, but this isn't one of them.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Food: Restaurant BT Is Back As Simply "BT"

We had been waiting impatiently for BT Nguyen to open her new restaurant at 2507 South MacDill Avenue. Her latest venture into culinary excellence is known simply as BT and we were fortunate enough to secure reservations for this past Thursday evening.

As you approach BT fronting MacDill Avenue you walk through a lovely outdoor seating area and up to the double doors leading into the...kitchen? Were we ever surprised! The kitchen staff looked up and around at us standing in the doorway. We muttered that we obviously were not where we should have been. A friendly face smiled and welcomed us in anyway. We were given an impromptu tour of the immaculate kitchen as we were guided into the seating area and the maitres d' station at the real front door which is behind the restaurant, and looks out to the parking area.

We felt a little silly, but we were assured that all was well, and this was not the first time people came in to BT through the kitchen. This was certainly true, as we observed three more parties enter from the kitchen looking just as befuddled as we did.

The decor is light and airy with a clean, modern design. Great! Now that I got that out of the way, let's move on to the important stuff. BT has an impressive wine list and for our dinner we chose the exquisite Chateau Mont-Redon, Chateaunuef-du-Pape. The dinner menu had some impressive appetizer and salad choices. I chose the Spicy Baby Squid and Frisee Salad. This was a tangy, tasty, and tender start to my dinner. My dining partner prefers to have her "appetizer" at the end of the meal when it transforms itself into dessert.

For her entrée, the Belle of Ballast Point selected the Organic Chicken Breast Tonya, tender and juicy, served with mashed Asian purple potatoes molded into balls and accompanied by a French bean and carrot medley. There were subtle flavors common in Southeast Asian cooking, but with a delicate French touch.

One of my favorite dishes to prepare at home is Vietnamese Shaking (or, shaken) Beef - Bo Luc Lac - so called because the chef must shake the pan to sear the filet mignon cubes on all sides. My recipe is decidedly Southeast Asian with fish sauce, rice vinegar, and lime juice used in the dressing and marinade. It was with great surprise to see Shaken Beef on the BT menu, but prepared with Courvoisier Cognac and Swiss soy sauce. This I had to try, and I was totally impressed. The BT Shaken Beef was tender, and delicious, and maintained its Vietnamese heritage while benefiting from a decidedly French influence. Magnifique!

For dessert, my bride chose the Bread Pudding Croissant that she still raves about. I am not a dessert person, but I do enjoy an occasional Creme Brulee. What piqued my interest in the Trio of Creme Brulee was the one prepared with kaffir lime. We have a kaffir lime tree in the front yard and I use the leaves in a number of Southeast Asian recipes. The kaffir lime leaf has a distinctive taste that was apparent, but not overpowering, in the brulee cup. I was so enamored with the kaffir creme brulee that I honestly don't even remember what the other two tastes were.

Our bill for the evening came to a little over $200 and included our 20% gratuity for exceptional service.

Would we dine at BT again?

Mais oui!

Restaurant BT on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stuff That Boggles My Mind

~Since the vast majority of Americans are economically middle class or lower, how did the Party of the Rich (GOP) dupe so many into voting for them?

~Right now there are two million unemployed Americans (106,000 here in Florida) who will probably lose their jobless benefits on the first of December because the Republicans are more focused on extending the tax cuts for the wealthy. I wonder how many of those 2,000,000 Americans voted Republican?

~Another mind-boggler is why our elected officials in Washington can't get their minds around the concept of eliminating the Social Security income cap? Never mind, that was a silly question. We have a Republican majority in Congress and eliminating the income cap, while it would be beneficial to saving Social Security, would be detrimental to the high wage earners (those making more than $106,800 a year).

These are just a few of the issues that have me shaking my head, muttering to myself, and contemplating the benefits of heavy drinking.

Bottoms up, y'all!

***

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bay Area Briefs







No, not those briefs.




                                                                  


                                                                  And, definitely not these.


I am referring to brief musings on stuff going on in my world, like Nancy Pelosi being elected the Democratic Minority Leader for the 112th Congress - by a huge margin, I might add.

This 150 to 43 victory is what I would call overwhelming (approx. a 78% to 22% margin) and should serve as a benchmark for the chest-thumping Republicans who claim to have "taken back the country." A recent Rasmussen Report shows that the American public favors the Republicans over the Democrats by a narrow 45% to 40% margin. I wouldn't call that overwhelming nor is it a mandate.

***

More happy news: Murkowski in Alaska has officially handed Tea-bag Princess Palin and her minion, Joe Miller, a dandy defeat.

***

Say, what? A headline in today's St. Pete Times, "Kottkamp wanted security on Italy trip." "Who the hell is Kottkamp," many of you are probably asking? Well, that is the point! If people in Florida don't know he is their Lieutenant Governor, it's rather arrogant for Kottkamp to think the Italians would know who he is, or even gave a rat's patootie.

***

And, now the SOG City Oracle Hershey Squirt Award goes to:

Verizon Business, a subsidiary of Ivan the Horrible's conglomerate. The buzz in the Bay area business world is that in keeping with the spirit of the season it was decided that this year Verizon Business was going to have a heart; albeit a heart not unlike that of Dick Cheney, the Darth Vader of the Beltway. 

Rumor has it that this year's layoff notifications will occur a week before Thanksgiving instead of at Thanksgiving. This is so that the recipient of the pink slip would not have their last day fall on Christmas Day like it did last year. Verizon Business decided that it would be "cruel" to can someone on Christmas Day, so now the newly unemployed will be out the door a week before Christmas. 

How nice. How very nice! (Click the link for translation) 

By the way, that Christmas Day canning was our little gift from Verizon last year. So, a Merry Hershey Squirt Christmas from us...and, may it serve you well.

***

A final note for our governor-in-waiting: Hey, bub, you best be getting started on creating those 700,000 new jobs. The unemployed are piling up pretty fast around here. You may have a problem keeping up.

~

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Food: Crazy for Crazy Buffet

We have dined at Crazy Buffet many times over the years and always waddled away stuffed and satisfied. After the Bucs whipped the Panthers this past Sunday, we decided that rather than fighting Dale Mabry traffic on our way back to SOG City that we would pop in to the Crazy Buffet for food and a couple more brewskies.

After a very brief wait the hostess guided us to our table and our server showed up promptly to take our drink order, a Tsingtao for me (I own stock in the company) and a light beer for my dainty dining partner. Then our server said, "Y'all go ahead on and help yourself to the buffet." Well, maybe she really didn't speak with a southern accent, but we got the point.

My bride always goes for the lighter fare, while I go for the most exotic I can find. Crazy's sushi and sashimi selections are a starting point for me and my choices were fresh, plentiful, and tasty. From there I head to the back for more fish and shellfish. On this night they had some of the most flavorful crawfish that I have ever had; just twist off and suck the head, pinch the tail and pull out the meat - heavenly.

I made my usual stop at the Oriental style barbecued pork ribs, and Peking duck stations. From there it was on to the kimchi, then over to the steamed mussels and steamed clams. I was on my way back to the table when I spotted something that I had never seen before at Crazy Buffet - blue crabs. My plate was too full to stop, but on my next foray into the aisles of gluttony I did hit the crabs. How delightful! These crabs were prepared in the Chinese manner of deep frying with a light coating of flour, salt, and pepper. Like a salt and pepper shrimp recipe, you pretty much eat shell and all. It was yummy! I really have no idea what all my bride consumed, because at the Crazy Buffet it's every man or woman for themselves.

As I mentioned before, we have dined at Crazy Buffet many times and have never been disappointed. On the rare occasions when we come across something that doesn't please our taste buds we don't have to eat it. We just go back to the buffet and choose something else. The variety and the quantity of food is just mind boggling.

Over the years I think we have hit just about every buffet between Tampa and New Orleans and back. Crazy Buffet is by far our favorite.

Crazy Buffet on UrbanspoonBon appetit, y'all.        

VariAsian Crazy Buffet on Foodio54

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wine and Cheese: Cru Cellars

The St. Pete Times ran a recent article that suggested Cru Cellars was nothing short of spectacular. We certainly won't argue with that assessment. Cru Cellars is a warm, friendly, and intelligent addition to the wine and cheese scene in South Tampa, or anyplace else in the city for that matter.

The love of my life and I popped in this past Saturday and immediately headed for the wine bar. It was early in the day so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. This allowed proprietors Jen and Torrey to devote their complete attention to us. We felt really special having our own "private tasting", though I am sure that all customers are treated as special guests at Cru Cellars.

Jen, who is a recognized sommelier, presented the wine, cheese, and charcuterie menus to us at the bar. She also recommended various wines to accompany our meat and cheese selections. Jen suggested that we try one of the wine flights, the Whitey Tighty. We were each presented with three white wines which afforded us the opportunity to sample six different wines. All were excellent, but our favorites were the La Craie Vouvray, the Woolstoon Sauvignon Blanc, and the Starry Night Chardonnay.

Photo by Jen
While we sampled the wine Jen dispatched Torrey to the kitchen to prepare our cheese and charcuterie flight. We chose the Kiev Russian Style Salami, Prosciutto de Parma, plus a selection of cow, goat, and sheep cheeses. These flights come with a triple berry jam, caramelized nuts, and baguettes. Of the cheeses, our personal favorites were the buttery Delice de Bourgogne, Sottocenere with Truffles, the Beehive "Barely Buzzed", and the amazing Rogue Smokey Blue. The Prosciutto was heavenly!

To wrap up this wonderful wine and cheese tasting we chose three selections from the dessert menu. The Doce Debbies Truffle with chili pepper was my favorite. I was amazed at how well dark chocolate and chili peppers go together. From the Viktoria Richard's Chocolates collection we enjoyed the Fleur de Sel, and the Chocolate Blueberry. To accompany the sweets, we each had a glass of the superb Trip Point Diamond Dust Cabernet.

Wall painting, digitally enhanced - or, maybe it was the wine
The Cru Cellars is a delightful venue for sampling a wide assortment of wines, cheeses, and a few select beers and ales. We can't say enough about our charming hosts, Jen and Torrey.

Chillin' for the tastin'
Cru Cellars on Urbanspoon
The exotic Miller Lite - a concession for Torrey


Monday, November 15, 2010

Music That Makes Me Quiver

I was listening to my Cowboy Junkies CD, The Caution Horses, the other day and remembered that the second cut on the album was the first Cowboy Junkies song I had ever heard. It was back in the early 1990s that 'Cause Cheap Is How I Feel hooked me and reeled me in.

The ethereal vocals and superb musicianship just blew me away. The lyrics are what really grabbed my interest and held on with an iron hand. I love intelligent, thought provoking, and emotional writing (a novelty in today's musical world). Michael Timmins achieved that with this song, and Margo just brings it all home.

I hope you, too, will enjoy this "blast from the past."



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Food: Eatin' at EATS!

EATS! American Grill is a relatively new addition to the South Tampa restaurant scene, and the Belle of Ballast Point insisted on treating me to a celebratory Veteran's Day dinner there in honor of my service to the country (U.S. Army and Florida Air National Guard).

On their web site, EATS! declares, "American food...prepared in its traditional manner." Chris Rose and J.R. Scoggins, the owning partners, decided that their restaurant would feature "recipes and inventions recorded in historic cookbooks from different cities and regions of the U.S." They have stuff like macaroni and cheese, fried green tomatoes, Buffalo chicken wings, chili, Wisconsin Beer Cheese Soup, and a host of other items that could be considered as typically American.

When we stepped across the threshold we were directed to sit anywhere we wished. We chose a table in front of one of the 10 large screen HD televisions mounted around the room. Our server told us that it was Happy Hour and beer, wine, and cocktails were two for one. Well, alright then, let's start with a Sam Adams draft for me and a house Cab for my bride. Happy Hour runs from 11 AM to 7 PM daily in case you were wondering.

We contemplated an appetizer of Pineapple Fritters, Fried Dill Pickle Chips, or the appetizer sampler. When our beverages arrived they came with a bowl of home made potato chips and a house Ranch dipping sauce. This serving was large enough that it dampened the desire for an additional appetizer. The sauce was very good, the chips would have been perfect had they all been crisp. Some of the chips were limp from being undercooked.

For our entrées my dining partner chose the Hand-Tossed Chicken Fingers with a mustard sauce and a side order of macaroni and cheese. I selected the Sirloin and Crab Cake with a side of Grilled Asparagus. According to my bride the ubiquitous fried chicken fingers were very good, but the mac and cheese was bland. She said that it is really hard to screw up mac and cheese but that was accomplished with this order. It should be mentioned that she grew up in a Southern household where mac and cheese was a one night a week staple. She knows her mac and cheese!

My sirloin was prepared to a perfect medium rare. Unfortunately, to the tooth, it was far removed from tender, and it was rather devoid of taste. The Maryland style crab cake was prepared with a satisfying ratio of crab meat to breading. My side of asparagus leaned towards limp as opposed to having a slight fresh crunch.

EATS! is kid friendly and their web site mentions that they try to accommodate the younger crowd by having one of their TVs tuned to some sort of children's programming. EATS! also has complimentary sound boxes that can be dropped off at your table. Of that, we became excruciatingly aware as one table viewing a kid's movie had the volume cranked up to "entertain the entire restaurant" levels.

It is unlikely that we would return to EATS! for dinner, but as a sports bar this would be an ideal setting to watch a game and enjoy their appetizers and sandwiches. Oh, the staff and management were very friendly and accommodating.

Our bill for the evening with beer, wine, and a 20% gratuity came to $52.85.

Eats! American Grill on Urbanspoon 

Eats American Grill on Foodio54

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Stuff You Learn From Email


Did you know that, the words "race car" spelled backwards still spells "race car"?

And that "eat" is the only word that, if you take the first letter and move it to the last, spells its own past tense, "ate"?

And if you rearrange the letters in "Tea Party Republicans," and add just a few more letters, it spells: "Shut the fuck up you free-loading, progress-blocking, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, violent hypocrites, and deal with the fact that you nearly wrecked the country under Bush and that our president is black, so get over it."

Isn't that interesting?


My thanks to the High Priestess of Everything (and then some, dammit) for that insightful and side-splitting email.

I remain,

Your Humble Servant

Friday, November 12, 2010

Social Security Income Cap: $106,800

The current Social Security income cap is over one hundred thousand dollars. What does that mean to you? If you make less than $106,800 per year you will be paying in to Social Security out of every pay check for the entire year.

That is not a big deal if you make, say $107,000 a year. You would only have an extra $200 in your pocket at the end of the year. What if you made $34,000,000 a year? Alex Rodriguez does, and based on an hourly wage he hits the cap after 6.5 hours of ball playing. Tiger Woods hits the cap after two hours of golf. Paris Hilton, on the other hand, has to do whatever it is she does for just 18 hours to hit the cap. For the rest of the year these three are FICA free. And, the average working stiff?

The median annual household income is around $50,000. There are approximately 80% of us who make less than $106,800 per year. That means that about 20% have a FICA deduction from their pay checks for only part of a year. That amounts to a raise in pay for those who, arguably, need it the least. Why am I even discussing this you may ask? Go ahead, ask!

From a recent AP news report: "The leaders of President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit commission launched a daring assault on mushrooming federal deficits on Wednesday, proposing reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security, gradually raising the retirement age to 69 and taking aim at popular tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction."

Nowhere in that "daring assault" do I see anything about eliminating the Social Security income cap. Obama's deficit commission, it would appear, is bipartisan in name only. They are taking the typical Republican stand of shafting the middle class in favor of the rich and powerful. I don't know why I would be surprised, and I am not. I am just disgusted!

On the subject of reducing cost of living increases it would seem that the commission isn't even keeping up with current events. The COLA has been eliminated by Congress for 2010 and 2011. That means that Social Security checks will essentially be reduced for millions of our fellow countrymen and women who are already hurting. There is another grand "Let them eat cake!" moment for you.

I have no delusional fantasies that contacting our elected "leaders" with our Social Security concerns would do us any good, but hope springs eternal. Or, so they say.

***