Monday, October 29, 2012

Prediction: Florida is going to screw up the election again

Think you’ll know who won the presidency before you go to bed November 6? Think again. There’s a one-word reason: Florida. Allow me to digress.

My wife and I just returned from early voting here in beautiful Bonita Springs. We waited two and a half hours to get into the polling place. It was quite festive actually. There was an armed security guard performing karaoke in the parking lot and couples dancing in line. Nobody complained. Everyone was proud and honored to be doing their duty.

But here’s the problem: The ballot in Florida is four large (e.g. 8 ½" x 14”) pages long. Two-sided no less.

In addition to voting for president, senator and representative along with members of local fire commissions, hospital boards, school boards, mosquito control commissions, etc., Floridians are being asked to vote on 11 – count ‘em, eleven – constitutional amendments, some of which require four or five paragraphs to explain. A few of the amendments are ridiculous. For example, should Florida's constitution be amended to allow a representative from a council of student body presidents of state-run colleges to sit on the board of governors of the state university system? Who gives a rat's ass? 

A man with a microphone kept announcing to those of us waiting in the line that, if you came prepared -- had read the proposed amendments and already knew how you were going to vote (we did) -- it would take you five to ten minutes to complete the ballot. But if you hadn’t, you would need an average of 25 to 30 minutes. Elderly people, I would imagine, will need more time than that. And there are millions of elderly voters in Florida.

Word is already out that it’s taking an inordinate amount of time to vote. A friend spent four and a half hours in line Saturday, the first day of early voting. Millions of Floridians are going to avoid early voting, and, instead, will show up at their local precincts on election day. And many of them, due to the complexity of the Florida ballot, aren’t going to get to the front of the line until the wee hours of the day after the election.

In short, Florida, the fourth most populous state in the country, a state where the presidential race is a dead heat, the state that made the hanging chad famous, is going to wreak havoc with this election, just as it did in 2000. It’s going to take a long, long time until the final results from Florida are certified and added to the votes from the rest of the country. And we’re all going to be waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

You read it here first. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

America's Only Objective Journalist® answers your questions about the election

Dear AOOJ®:
I’ve been a Democrat since my Harvard days but am concerned that President Obama, who promised to cut the national debt in half, has increased it by $4 trillion. I think it’s irresponsible he signed a health care bill nobody read. I’m concerned he’s anti-business and that his plan to raise taxes on high-income earners will worsen unemployment. I suspect he is not telling the full truth about Benghazi. I worry that, even though he promised hope and change, America is more deeply divided than ever. What do you think my friends at the Harvard Club will say when I tell them I’m voting Republican?
Don in Darien

Dear Don:
They’ll say you’re a racist.

Dear AOOJ®:
It should be clear to every thinking American that the single most important reason to re-elect President Obama is that Romney has vowed to end funding for Planned Parenthood! If this were to happen, I would have to buy my own birth control pills! Between the BMW lease payments, credit card bills, student loans and a cell phone bill that seems to go up every month, this will severely cramp my budget! Don’t you agree?

Dear Sandi:
As America’s Only Objective Journalist®, I cannot express personal opinions about political matters. But if Romney wins and axes Planned Parenthood funding, get in touch with me. I will personally pay for your birth control because anyone stupid enough to think free birth control is among the top 20 reasons to vote for a president shouldn’t reproduce.

Dear AOOJ®:
I’m a conservative who believes the Bible is God's word and that America is a Christian nation. Obviously, I wouldn’t even consider voting for a Kenyan-born Muslim. That said, Romney is a Mormon, a religion that claims to be Christian but believes in a third book of the Bible. This is something I know to be untrue, so I can’t in good conscience vote for him, either. My problem is, my son says he is going to vote for Romney. What should I do?
Ollie in Okla

Dear Ollie:
You can stone him to death (Deuteronomy 21:21). 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The only news we want from Gloria Allred and Donald Trump

There's a rumor going around the Internet that celebrity attorney Gloria "I Am So In Love With Seeing Myself On TV That, Like Forrest Gump, I Somehow Find a Way To Insert Myself Into Virtually Every News Story" Allred may be announcing major news that will adversely affect the Romney campaign.

Not to be undone, Donald "I Swear To God This Really Is My Own Hair Even Though You'd Think I Could Afford A Decent Haircut Instead Of This Ridiculous Combover" Trump has announced he will reveal on Wednesday news about Obama that's likely to sew it up for Romney.

Here's the only announcement America wants from either one of these whack jobs: "I've been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder and will be checking myself into an expensive mental institution for treatment."

Friday, October 12, 2012

4 ways to spin the VP debate: Headlines you'll find only on!


 Our repeated calls to the VP's office for confirmation went unreturned.  


Could it be that Ryan's mother gave up his identical twin for adoption ... 
and the twin went on to become a TV star?


"Sometimes words don't come out of your mouth the right way," Ryan reminded the gaffe-prone Biden who responded, "I always say what I mean."


Was that vodka in Ryan's glass?  "It sure looked like it," according to a Connecticut-based ad man who once worked on the Smirnoff Vodka account. "People of Irish descent often have problems with alcohol," the insider said. "And if Ryan does, he should come clean with us now."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The affliction men of a certain age are too embarrassed to talk about

Women are always complaining about the physical changes they undergo as they get older. We men don’t go around talking about the changes we experience, but they trouble us nevertheless.

Our hairlines recede and sometimes disappear altogether. The only new hairs we see are the ones that inexplicably sprout from our ears. It starts taking a long time to pee. Our blood pressure shoots up. Many, I hear, require pills to achieve something they used to try and disguise whenever it popped up inappropriately at work, church or the supermarket. But of the many afflictions aging males face, the one that troubles me most is one nobody talks about: white leg syndrome.

I spend most of my time in Florida where, every day, I ride my bike an hour or so. I always wear shorts. Not those weird-ass spandex things no cyclist over 25 should wear. Plain old Bermuda shorts from Joseph A. Bank.

Though I promise my dermatologist during my annual visit that I’ll wear sunscreen, I never do. As a result, my face is perpetually tan. So are my arms. But my legs, which receive every bit as much exposure to the sun, are the color of Styrofoam.

I first noticed this phenomenon last winter. I was working out in front of a mirror at the gym where, because it’s in Florida, I am considered, at 60, a junior member. I thought it was a giant sunspot reflecting off the mirror but no – those were my legs shining back at me. Looking around, I observed that the legs of roughly half the men in the room were as tan as their faces. The other half had legs as white as mine.

I asked my wife if she had noticed how white my legs had become. “Duh, you’re just now seeing that?” she replied. “They look … bizarre.”

I brought it up to my dermo on my next visit. “Do some men lose melanin in their legs as they get older?”

He laughed. “That’s ridiculous. Your legs are white because, when you’re riding your bike, your upper body blocks the sun from reaching them.”

I might buy that if I were the size of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but I’m not. And my bike ride isn’t the only time during the day my legs are exposed to the sun. I take long walks, read by the pool for hours, go to the beach and, once, I even golfed. Unless we go to dinner at a swanky restaurant, when it’s nighttime anyway, I spend every waking moment in shorts or swim trunks.

Look, I realize there are many men my age or older who would gladly trade their very real physical maladies for one as insignificant as mine. And I suppose I could go to one of those spray-tanning places or slather a mixture of baby oil and iodine onto my legs, as my sister used to do to her entire body when she was a teen, to attract the sun's rays. I could even hide my lily whites with knee-high socks and try to pass myself off as a Bermudian. But none of those alternatives are acceptable.

I guess white legs are something I will have to live with. Unlike the hair that sprouted from my ear while I was sleeping last night that is now approximately the length of a bamboo fishing pole. I’m going into the bathroom to cut that sucker right now. Soon as I remember where I left the scissors.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Three takes on Columbus Day

As spun by the left wing media
Today is Columbus Day, a day during which every American should pause to reflect upon the horrific legacy of Mr. Columbus who, in 1492, sailed the ocean blue to rape, pillage, enslave and commit genocide against the gentle, peace-loving natives who waded out to greet him.

As spun by the right wing media
Today is Columbus Day, a day to honor the explorer who, in 1492, sailed the ocean blue and discovered a new world that would ultimately provide Europeans who settled in what is now the United States with the ability to enjoy religious, civil and economic liberties unparalleled in world history -- liberties Barack Hussein Obama and his Chicago thugs want to take from you.

As spun by
Today is Columbus Day, named for Christopher Columbus who, in 1492, sailed the ocean blue in search of a shorter route to the East Indies and accidentally stumbled upon a new world. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

When fall comes to New England

I was listening to my iPod yesterday when this song, written and performed by a New England-based folk singer named Cheryl Wheeler, started playing. I downloaded it years ago after I heard her perform it here in Wilton, Connecticut and had forgotten it was on my playlist. Wheeler nails it -- autumn in New England is truly spectacular, a treat for every sense. Build a fire in the fireplace, pour yourself a glass of apple cider, and enjoy the video which I lifted from youtube. And have a great weekend. (PS: Click on the "Watch on youtube" link.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My little black friend from Aruba

While cleaning the basement, my wife found the crate in which our little black friend from Aruba traveled to his new home in America. First published in 1999, this is his story.

Ocean was a black, 15-pound mongrel with tarter-caked teeth, sour breath and cataract-glazed eyes that appeared green in every single photo we ever took. We were crazy about him.

In 1993, en route to a vacation in Aruba, I promised my 7-year-old I’d get him a present if he could last the week without provoking a fight with his older brother. “I want another dog,” he replied. We laughed. Our family already had two so a third dog was out of the question. Besides, it seemed like a safe bet.

An hour after we arrived I spotted the little black dog, strutting purposefully along the beach, his head held high as if he were on a mission. He was.

He stopped at the Hyatt beach bar, where the bartender served him a bowl of water he lapped up gratefully. He then proceeded up and down the beach, begging sunbathers for food. Few could resist sharing their potato chips with him. Potato chips remained his favorite food until the very end.

I’ve fallen in love on-the-spot twice. On the day I met my wife. And for the second time on that palm-studded beach where, in the distance, calypso music was playing.

Reading my mind, my wife had five words to say. “Don’t even think about it.”

I observed him for most of the week. His poor-little-beggar-dog routine never varied. At night we would find him curled up under a bush where he was safest from iguanas, which, in Aruba, are the size of small alligators.

I asked lifeguards and vendors who worked on the beach if he belonged to anyone. All agreed he didn’t and that he was a nuisance.

One morning I went to the beach alone and plopped down in a chaise. The little black dog came up to me. I talked to him. He seemed to understand. “Little black dog, I’m going to get up and walk back to the hotel. If you follow me, I’ll take it as a sign you will consider becoming a part of my family … and you will become a prince among dogs.”

I walked a hundred yards without looking back, hoping he was following. He was. I stopped. He stopped. I walked a hundred more. So did he. Our eyes met. His seemed to say, “I trust you, mon.”

I threw a towel over him and smuggled him through the lobby, up to our room.

His ribs protruded. He was covered with fleas. One eye was swollen shut with infection. I took him to a vet I found in the phone book and instructed the vet to give the dog the shots he needed to get through U.S. Customs. The vet wrote “Lucky” under “name” on the dog’s inoculation record, but the boys named him “Ocean.”

Ocean flew with us to America and was driven to his new home in Connecticut, a white colonial surrounded by green grass on which he promptly relieved himself, marking it “mine.”

He was housebroken instantly. And, while I’m the one who wanted him, he immediately became my wife’s shadow, following her everywhere – even to the bathroom.

Our other dogs would invite him to join them in play. He would stare back blankly. Perhaps he never understood the language spoiled little American dogs speak. In any case, play was a foreign concept to someone who had spent his entire life foraging for food and outrunning iguanas.

Twice a day, when his bowl was filled with Mighty Dog, he would break into a joyful dance and bark, as if declaring, “Hey mon, what a great country! I don’t have to beg no more.”

And, despite the fact he was accustomed to the tropics, he loved to stay inside, where it was air-conditioned. We would let him out to do his business and within a few seconds he was back at the door, as if he were afraid the house would vanish while he was away from it, along with his new-found good fortune.

Already gray-muzzled when we found him, Ocean grew grayer through the late ‘90s. About a year ago, he found the stairs impossible to negotiate, so we started carrying him up and down.

One day this summer, I detected a lump in his chest. We rushed him to the vet who said it appeared to be an allergic reaction. But after several months of expensive treatments, as he became thinner and less steady on his feet, it was clear Ocean’s days were numbered.

The end came suddenly. We were planning to leave the next day for a weekend in Boston. That morning, the vet had suggested that Ocean should spend the weekend in the hospital for observation, rather than check into the kennel with our other dogs. We agreed to bring him back in the morning.

Ocean hated to be boarded, to be separated from us. He knew he was mortally ill. So he decided he would rather die in his beloved home, surrounded by his family.

My wife says he danced and barked for his dinner, as usual, at 5, before she left to meet some friends.

When I arrived home at 7, he was curled up on his blanket, unable to raise his head or stand. He looked up at me as if to say, “Sorry mon, there’s nothing you can do about it.”

I petted him and, as his breathing became more labored, spoke gently, telling him to go ahead, to let go. I thanked him for the lessons he had taught us about trust, about gratitude, about not judging by outward appearances, about giving and receiving love with no strings attached. But he seemed to be waiting for something.

When he heard my wife’s car turn into the driveway, he lifted his head. When she walked through the door, his ears perked up, and he seemed to relax. A few moments later, he crawled under our poster bed where he slept every night, fell on his side, breathed deeply three times, and was gone.

I like to think he’s back in Aruba, but that Aruba has changed.

Palms still sway. In the distance, steel drums still pound out calypso. He still has the freedom to work the beach, begging potato chips from strangers.

But where the beach bar stood now stands a white air-conditioned colonial, surrounded by a carpet of green grass.

In the house lives a family who loves him, defends him from iguanas, keeps his bowl filled with fresh cool water and serves him Mighty Dog twice a day.

He knows he can come home whenever he wants, and he always does.