Saturday, October 10, 2009

America’s “Question Period” is in session

The notion of political correctness declares certain topics, certain expressions, even certain gestures, off-limits. What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship.” –George Herbert Bush

LAKE WORTH – When I first moved to Buffalo to start law school in 1979, I discovered Canadian television.

What was so different about Canadian television back then? They did not censor their programs or movies, so George Carlin’s “Seven Dirty Words” routine would have been a little less funny across the border. I was also able to watch Canadian football (I love the fact that there are no fair catches in their game) and a continuous regimen of NHL hockey.

But what was most interesting (and addicting) to me during my three years in Buffalo was to come home, turn on the set and watch first Prime Minister Joe Clark and then P.M. Pierre Trudeau defend themselves, their parties, and their policies in the “Question Period” of the Canadian Parliament.

The Question Period involves the Prime Minister of Canada getting questioned by leaders and members of the opposition parties and debating them every day that Parliament is in session.

Question Period can be a brutal, verbal food fight. The Prime Minister is asked hard, intense, and sometimes nasty questions. He, in turn, answers the questions in equally ruthless words and tones. All participants in the Question Period easily throw accusations of impropriety and corruption at each other-sometimes, it gets very ugly (today, you can watch it on the Internet-click the above link to watch recent sessions).

I continue to be fascinated by what recent American pundits would term the “incivility” of the dialogue of the Question Period. Every morning that Parliament meets, the head of the Canadian government has to get up out of bed and defend his policies and actions in Parliament-and personally endure considerable abuse from political opponents. It is citizen democracy at its best

Recently, President Obama and many pundits in the mainstream press have been critical of the rise of incivility in our political dialogue, particularly in the health care reform debate.

The unexpected verbal abuse thrown at incumbent congressmen and senators at recent town halls, the tough language used and callous attire worn by some protestors at Tea Party rallies throughout the nation, South Carolina Congressmen Joe Wilson’s shouting “you lie” during Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress, the insane reference by Congressman Alan Grayson’s comparing the nation’s health care system to the Holocaust, and the elevated banter on talk radio and cable programming, have all caused Obama apologists to argue that these exhibits of words and emotions are over the line in terms of decency and even a threat to our democracy..

In an op-ed recently written by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman entitled “Where did ‘we’ go?” , he made an analogy of our present state of political dialogue to the heated political climate in Israel that he alleged lead to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.

Friedman contended that the name calling and sometimes racist depictions of President Obama, the questioning of his birth in the United States, and harsh arguments against his policies are dangerous (like it supposedly was to Rabin) not only for Obama himself, but the institution of the Presidency. He pleads that in these troubled times, Americans must come together as one instead of ratcheting up the ideological rhetoric:

“…politics is a tough business. But if we destroy the legitimacy of another president to lead or to pull the country together for what most Americans want most right now — nation-building at home — we are in serious trouble”

I disagree. While the mainstream press likes to magnify the extremes of some who protest, like a few racist pictures of Obama at tea party rallies and gun toting members of the town hall meetings, most of the dialogue, while elevated, is no less “violent” than those in the past serving in Washington have ever endured- and certainly nothing different that was thrown (including shoes) by those now whining about incivility at President Bush in the not so distant past.

As the thick skinned Canadians politicians show day after day in the Question Period, ugly words and behavior promote, rather than ruin, their democratic form of government.

Americans are now scared about losing their standard of living and their lifestyle. Out in the heartland, what were once an apolitical and/or apathetic middle class of Americans are now waking up from their Prozac induced stupor. For the first time in two or three generations, the common American is seriously challenging political leadership at all governmental levels-and incumbent politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are running scared.

The nasty and loud tone of those on both the left and right and the ugly rhetorical clash of such cultures taking place in Congress is, in fact, a reflection of this political awakening, not an effort to destroy the legitimacy of our messianic President. This angry dialogue is the byproduct of the end to a political ennui, a sign that Americans are becoming much more politically engaged. It is certainly not a threat to the well being of President Obama or our democracy.

More and more, Obama needs to be protected from criticism, because he promised a lot and is really getting nothing done (as was humorously portrayed in the Obama Address skit on NBC’s Saturday Night Live).

The lamenting about the breakdown of civility in political dialogue itself is really nothing more than a cynical strategy formulated by Obama supporters and the mainstream press to deflect such disparagement. It is a tactic that exploits our obsession with political correctness and an American preoccupation with civility in our everyday speech (which is exemplified by the fact that Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words are still prohibited from American airwaves).

What is in fact really dangerous is the call for “nation building” (where the power of the state is used to construct and structure a national identity) because it attempts to deter the important clash of political ideologies and debate of the issues. It sets a diminished standard for what acceptable political speech really is and establishes a prohibited class of “political pornography.” With the mainstream press and influential Hollywood and television personalities as forceful accomplices, the plea for “civil dialogue” is a serious threat to free speech because it dissuades the dissemination of news, information and philosophies, all in the name of national unity and political correctness. It is true statist censorship.

Obama is not the type of leader that could ever tolerate a daily Question Period. Rather, he defends his message by sound bite. Unlike many members of Congress who got in front of hostile town meeting crowds and endured withering face to face criticism (with many then rethinking their positions on healthcare more in line to their constituents), our President favors giving weekly monumental speeches from Teleprompters and speaking at staged forums with hand selected audiences to join the debate. It is easier for our Nobel Prize winning President and his supporters to frame their raucous opponents as “dangerous” and, like George Carlin would put it, “fucked up,” tolerate the voices, images, and philosophies of true and important dissent. As time goes on, we will learn, the hard way, that the real danger to the Presidency and our country is not questioning our leaders, but the man occupying the Oval Office being larger than the institution itself.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A "short" letter to President Obama

“A true man hates no one” - Napoleon Bonaparte

Dear President Obama:
I am writing to you in regard to your recent statements concerning the arrest of Professor Gates of Harvard University. Your spontaneous comments at a recent press conference regarding racial profiling brought to light an important issue facing American society today. I applaud you.

Now, it is imperative that you continue the fight against prejudice. Mr. President, even though you are tall and love basketball, I would ask you take a “little” time away from your health reform efforts to show some real empathy toward your shorter constituents by addressing “vertically challenged profiling.”

Vertically challenged profiling happens to millions of short Americans every day. While being a “vertically challenged” has never been identified as legal category of discrimination, short Americans have always suffered bigotry and discrimination because of their height in a society that favors tall individuals in all aspects of our lives.

The basic term “short” has a harmful connotation that affects people’s judgments and actions toward vertically challenged people. For example, short is often associated with negativity and failure, like “selling short,” performing a “short sale,” being “short” with a person, or being “short changed.”

Bottom line, it is not always easy going through life always looking up to talk to people and knowing they treat you different because of your appearance.

Personally, I have had a hard life being profiled as a short man.

I “grew up” always being picked on by big bullies. I always got called names like “dwarf,” “shrimp,” “midget,” “runt,” “shorty,” “squirt,” and “punk.” My bar mitzvah really made me feel short and different. During the service, while worshippers continuously giggled, I had to stand on three Manhattan phone books to recite my Haftorah from the bimah (dais) in my shul. I was also traumatized by not being able to cool and wear bellbottom pants (they always had to cut the bell off the pant legs so they would fit my short inseam). In terms of dating-it was a disaster. I was, of course, profiled as short by teenage girls taught from an early age that tall is sexy.

By the time I went to college, I was only 5’2” (I actually grew three inches between freshman and sophomore years). When I went to freshman registration, I was profiled and practically tackled by two coaches from the Crew team who were there scoping out the lines for potential coxswains. Every time I took the bus or train home from college and law school, it never failed that an extremely heavy person would profile me and seat next to me, conquering with their girth half my seat left by my small body and crushing me against the window for the trip.

In the work world, I have also encountered constant short profiling. For example,, when I got my first job as an Assistant District Attorney, the D.A., a huge weightlifter and great trial lawyer, almost immediately started calling me “dwarf,” “shrimp,” “midget, ” “ runt, ” “shorty, ” “squirt, ” and “punk” on a regular basis (when I still see him, one of those comments always comes my way).

Even at home, my 10 year old daughter (who is 5’8” already and wears a shoe three sizes bigger than me) constantly makes fun of my vertical impairment, saying things like “Boy, I bet it is terrible to go through life being 5’5,” telling the counter person at McDonalds that the kids meal is really for me, or calling me “Mini-Me” to try to upset me.

The worst perception vertically challenged people, particularly males, suffer in American society is the assumption that they have to make up for their shortness by being aggressive-that they all suffer from a “Napoleonic complex,” otherwise known as “short man syndrome,” “little man syndrome,” and “small man syndrome.”

Scientific studies have shown that it is a myth that short people are more antagonistic than tall people, yet the short “Napoleonic” profiling flourishes unabated (just don’t ask my wife her opinion). And by the way, the Napoleonic complex does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (again, just don’t ask my wife for her opinion).
Recently, an article in the ever politically correct New York Times showed how out of hand profiling of the “vertically challenged” is. In an op-ed piece written by writer Maureen Dowd about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, she started off immediately short profiling Kim by writing:

When I look at the incorrigible Kim Jong-il, an insult
hurled by the incomparable Billy Wilder comes to mind.

Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The
New Republic, was having dinner with Wilder years ago when the subject of Swifty
Lazar, the very famous and very short agent, came

Putting down his knife and fork, Wilder
announced: “That man should go hang himself from a bonsai

Dowd also lamented in the article that Kim is “known to use lifts in his shoes.” (I wonder how many high heeled shoes and enhanced bras she owned when she wrote the piece.)

Disney, another politically correct American cultural institution, also does not help our cause either. One look at the character Lord Farquaad in Shrek says it all.

So Mr. President, it is time to add one more item to your aggressive “short” list of changes to get accomplished -to get vertically challenged Americans recognized as a profiled and discriminated class and to work to stop the profiling of those who are between 4’11’ and 5’6.”

It would be a major breakthrough if you, as a tall President, proposed legislation similar to the racial, sexual, and origin mandates that are on the books now to discourage short profiling and discrimination.

No, I am not asking to be classified as a handicapped person (although we do have to take a lot more steps in the parking lot and special spots for short people would be really cool). Just help us Short Americans overcome profiling and prejudice against them.

Please bring up the issue at your next press conference. Talk about what vertically challenged Americans endure in a society designed for and prejudiced toward tall people-and make sure to condemn Maureen Dowd for her vertically challenged profiling of Dictator Kim by calling her, in no uncertain terms, “stupid” (I dare you).

Now, if you want to discuss this issue further, I would be happy to come to the White House for a “short” visit and have a beer with you. (Just don’t get cute and serve me “stout” in a “stubby” bottle). Please make sure that if we meet the press, the podium we would use is not taller than 5’2”-or have some Washington Yellow Pages on hand for me to use.

Yours truly,


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Strictly as athletes, Rose and Vick merit return to professional sports

“We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies - it is the first law of nature”-Voltaire

LAKE WORTH – Earlier this week, it was reported that two great athletes who were banned from their respective games would be allowed to reenter the world of professional sports.

First it was reported that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was reconsidering the decision banning baseball great Pete Rose from the game. Rose was expelled from baseball for life in 1989 for betting on baseball games.

Reinstatement would allow Rose to be eligible to be voted on by the Veteran’s Committee for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While Rose was never convicted of the actual crime of sport betting, he nevertheless was tossed by Major League Baseball as an unsuitable character.

The National Football League also announced that it was conditionally reinstating top quarterback Michael Vick after he served a 20 month Federal prison term for his major role in an illegal dog fighting enterprise. Because of the conviction, Vick was suspended from playing in the NFL and incurred over $200 million in losses in salary and promotional fees.

Professional sports will ban a player for life or impose lesser sanctions for infractions that not only are criminal in nature, but break rules, ethical codes or exhibit other inappropriate behavior that is deemed to threaten the “integrity” of the sport.

Criminals can be and are granted either pardons or clemency by the President of the United States (under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution) or state governors. In the world of professional sports, which have their own corporate rules and regulations, it is often up to the sole discretion of the Commissioner of the sport to allow a player back into the fold.

Both Vick and Rose are plain and simple great athletes. While they may not be exactly role models for students or great candidates to be your son in law, they nevertheless should be allowed to reenter the world of professional sports and be part of their respective games.

In context of playing a professional sport and being inducted into a Sports Hall of Fame, great athletes should be judged foremost on their athletic talents first and foremost, not their character flaws or even their criminal transgressions outside the playing field. Criminality or unethical behavior should only be considered if they break a rule or a law that pertains to their actual playing on the field (like taking steroids to enhance performance).

The moral fiber of a professional athlete exhibited outside the game should not bar them from playing sports. What a player does off the field or after his career is over should not have an effect on his job or standing in the sports world. While some professional athletes make a lot of money, they are still simply human beings, not saints, who have the same character flaws as their fans. Sometimes, they make big mistakes.

In this day and age, it is ridiculous to hold professional players to the same high moral standards as religious leaders or leaders in our community. The bar is raised way too high for these athletes in terms of turpitude.

In Rose’s case, the decade’s long ban was overkill. Rose is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, living baseball player whose achievements are still unprecedented. His betting did not have any influence on his team’s performance while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds and he was in fact never convicted of sports betting. He should have been inducted in the Hall of Fame a long time ago.

In Vick’s case, he committed a heinous crime against animals and paid the ultimate price, both by going to prison and in terms of losing a tremendous amount of salary and other income. He has agreed to be mentored, to go to counseling, and to perform other rehabilitative acts to get his personal life back on track. He did his time and deserves to be playing football again (maybe not for any team named after an animal :).

A number of different standards for criminals are considered for a Presidential pardon, including how the petitioner has conducted himself in general while and after serving his sentence, the seriousness of the crime committed, acceptance of responsibility and showing of remorse, and the need for relief

If these standards were applied to Vick and Rose, they would surely qualify for a pardon.
Both men have expressed remorse and more than paid their penalties for their transgressions. It is time to forgive them. They are still sports giants and deserve to get both the recognition for their great athletic abilities and to be part of their respective games again.

After all, baseball and football are still basically just games.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A moment of Town and Country solitude on July 4th

“I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind”- Albert Einstein

MONTICELLO – It’s July 4th. I’m at a picnic table out front of my mother in law’s bungalow at the “Town and Country” Bungalow Colony in Monticello, NY.

It is early afternoon. It is cool, sweatshirt weather and I feel real comfortable. The wind is blowing and the leaves of the large maple and oak trees in the colony are rustling and whistling. Down a slight hill to my left, there are three robins slowly hopping in tandem along the newly mowed grass, pecking for worms.

I have nice memories of this place. My aunt Blanche, when she was single and first started her career as a teacher, lived here. The place, both inside the bungalows and out, looks basically the same now as it did then in the mid-1960s. Being here is like being in a time warp-except that the surrounding neighborhood, which was nice when I was a kid, is seedy and decrepit now.
Town and Country is a now a vestige of a better yesterday on the “little mountain” of Monticello.

It is very quiet here. You could not tell it was July 4th but for some American flags that are planted near some of the trees and pasted up in the windows. While there are a number of grills outside the doors of the bungalow, they are covered-there are no hotdogs and hamburgers being cooked today at Town and Country. My mother in law tells me that the snowbirds are all resting up for the big show in the new clubhouse tonight.

There is something about coming home here, no matter how rundown Monticello has become over the years. The Village of Monticello is where I was born and where I made my some of my best friends for life. It is where I grew up and later returned to live, to practice law, and start a newspaper. It is where I met and fell in love with my wife, the probation officer, in the Village Court (I am on now lifetime probation) and where I had the honor of representing its residents as a County Legislator.

I have this illogical, strong attachment to Monticello and despite living in dynamic South Florida for ten years, I can’t shake it.

Monticello was once the epicenter of the famed Borscht Belt. As tourism declined over the last 30 years, the middle class and businesses moved out of the village and it has become very poverty stricken, gang ridden, and blighted.

When I lived here, I always wanted the already decaying Village to rejuvenate, to join the rest of the growth taking place in adjacent counties that linked their existence to commuting to the metropolitan NYC area.

Now that I am a little older, I am glad Monticello did not become yet another suburb-despite the despair and poverty that has encompassed it and the lack of any intelligence and vision of those now in control of its destiny.

While Monticello itself is for the most part a slum, parts of it and the areas surrounding the village are still very beautiful and country. Yesterday, I went with my son on a drive on a country road in the appropriately named Town of Forestburgh. We drove to a secluded waterfall that I had discovered years ago near where the author Stephen Crane lived. We hiked down to the base of it and I sat there on a large flat rock between two trees for about a half an hour, listening to the rushing water that drowned out all other sounds around the river. All my troubles dissipated at that moment. I felt peace.

The Catskill Mountain woods always have had a calming effect on me, but now that I don’t live near them, I relish the short interludes of such tranquility I find in them.
I told my son yesterday that it was important in life to find quiet places where you can go and really think in a deep, reflective manner about life, to try to gain and maintain the proper perspective of your existence. I don’t have that now in hot, crowded South Florida. I have to come here for it.

When I was growing up in the village near several bungalow colonies, I never understood the allure of my country village to city people. At this moment at the old “Town and Country” bungalow colony, surrounded by tall trees and robins feeding, smelling the fresh cut grass, feeling the cool summer breeze, I now understand.

The Catskill Mountains are still as magical as they were in the days of Rip Van Winkle. Sitting here, I find there is still peace and beauty in Monticello. This village will always have a strong attachment to my heart. I will always consider and call Monticello my home.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Beware the pissed off Pachyderm

“Anger is one letter short of danger.” ~Author Unknown

LAKE WORTH-Last night, I had coffee at a nearby Dunkin Donuts with my friend Dave.
Dave is an affluent retired Republican businessman. He is your classic American success story. He built a small family business into a multimillion dollar operation and eventually sold it, guaranteeing the financial future of his family.

Dave has a nice middle-class lifestyle and is not extravagant in any sense. He lives in a modest home, drives a mid-size car, and once or twice a year takes a nice vacation with his wife. I would label Dave a fiscal conservative with a moderate social bent, a typical moderate Republican.

If you want to categorize someone as a loyal Republican, you would think of Dave. He is one of those people politicians love. If Dave believes in a candidate or a cause, he will make generous contributions and volunteer his time and services, asking nothing in return but a thank you at the end of the campaign.

When I meet Dave, we usually talk politics, sometimes for hours at a time. Dave is one of the brightest people I know and I highly value his opinions. In terms of politics, he is extremely grounded in his assessment of events and issues.

I had anticipated that we would be talking about the upcoming Senatorial primary in Florida and other races last night, but Dave began the conversation with words that surprised me.

“I am really angry.”

“You’re not the angry type. What are you angry about?” I asked.

“I’m just totally disgusted with the party. They just don’t get it.”

Dave told he was not happy with the lack of change taking place in local, state, and national Republican parties. He stated that they continue to be extremely ineffective in taking on the Democrats in power and in making the party stronger, both locally and nationally. “It’s just SOS,” he said.

He then expounded on his anger, citing how recent events in Washington and the lack of effective opposition by the Republican Party to the bailouts and stimulus package had really hurt him.

Dave is a bondholder in GM and stands to loss a tremendous amount of money because of the GM Bankruptcy. As part of the proposed Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan designed by the Obama administration, GM bondholders will forfeit all but a small fraction of their investment in the bonds.

If the GM Bankruptcy Court approves the proposed settlement, Dave told me he will lose a big chunk of his life savings and most of the disposable income from interest paid by the bonds that made life very comfortable for him and his wife in retirement- it is also the money he used to make generous contributions to the Republican Party and its candidates.

“What really bothers me is that the Republicans did not offer a real alternative to the whole situation,” Dave added.

“Dave, you did not see it coming?”

“Of course I did. But when I called my broker last year, he insisted the bonds were a “solid” investment. He made me feel stupid for questioning an investment in GM, a bedrock American company. I should not have listened to him and followed my instinct.”

I told Dave he is not alone, that most Americans now wake up every morning pissed off that their lives have been permanently changed in a very negative manner. “We are all angry.”

I also told Dave I’m disgusted that the Republican Party is not truly rebuilding and instead is still exemplified by moral hypocrites like Governor Sanford who continue to hurt the image of the party.

“There are no fresh ideas, no new Republican ideology to fit today’s circumstances. Worse, there’s no real fight going on,” I said.

I told Dave we need new leadership, like a Jack Kemp, to step up to promote real, practical free market alternative solutions to get people back to work and fix our credit, healthcare, and the housing situations. So far, nada.

“Instead,” I said, “we still have morally superior conservative throwbacks like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich touting antiquated ‘conservative’ dictum and at the same time filling a dangerous vacuum of leadership that is leading the Republican Party down the road to permanent political insignificance.”

We both took a moment to reflect and finish our coffee. Dave then replied:

“I totally agree. They will be traveling that road without me from now on. I get several calls a day for contributions from the Party and I ignore them now. Like I said, I’m pretty angry and disgusted. I got other things to worry about now.”

This week's Kurlykomments Tweets on Twitter:

  • When is a smart,moderate Republican going to step up and claim the mantle of the Republican Party? NO MORE SANFORDS!
  • Danny Choi should stay in military-don't ask, don't tell just plain stupid & violates civil rights-Truman integrated-Obama should tolerate.
  • Wanna bet Madoff does not get maximum sentence today?
  • Dana Milbank was absolutely right on CNN today calling out the fake press question to Huffington Post lackey by Obama "press conference"
  • Sick of fanatics calling for excommunication of fellow their beliefs rather than what Palm Beach Rush says to do-enough already.
  • You know what is wrong with this country? We care more about a perverted singer's death than the radicalization of economy & health care.
  • Sanford's wrong was to leave SC w/o telling anyone where he was, not hanging out eating empanadas in Argentina after his wife threw him out
  • Gov. Sanford is scheduled to appear on jon and kate plus 8 to join jon on a hike to a strip club
  • Home prices still falling. Massive foreclosures have ruined pricing in housing markets. Time for banks to stop and work out longer amorts. from web
  • Hiking in mountain woods is ultimate way to gain perspective in life-Gov. Sanford should complimented on hike away from gov't stimulation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Obama leaves his balls in his golf bag

LAKE WORTH – A funny thing happened in the fascist nation of Iran last week.

An “election” for the Iranian Presidency was held. The people of Iran went to the polls to vote for hope and change.

Millions of voters waited many hours on line and cast their votes. It was a record turnout.

When the votes were allegedly counted, the rulers of this fascist nation quickly proclaimed the incumbent a winner by a landslide, even though it was a lie.

The funny thing is that the oppressed Iranian people refused to accept the results. They knew their government was lying. They hit the streets and staged violent protests against the Fascist government and the winner, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the most dangerous men in today’s world.

The world watches with anticipation to see if the people of Iran, through protest in the streets, anticipated general strikes, and other action can overthrow their brutal theocracy.

Shamefully, the United States, lead by President Barak Obama, has basically said or done nothing to help or support them.

Thomas Jefferson once said that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed fromtime to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

The tree of liberty is attempting to take root in Iran and the blood of democrats is spilling in the streets there.

What is happening in the streets of Iran is a fight for basic human rights and democratic rule. It is also the rebirth of the hope and vision of democratic rule, this time in the Middle East.
Freedom from tyranny too often has to be fought for and born out of bloodshed.

President Obama, in his first real foreign affairs challenge, has chosen a very predictable cautionary approach. He says little-really, absolutely nothing at all.

President “Hope and Change” claims he does not want to give the Iranian dictatorship an excuse to blame the United States for meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.

Obama just doesn’t have the guts to take a hard stand. As usual, our politically correct President is afraid to offend other tyrants in the Middle East and the world with meaningful, harsh words of support for the demonstrators in their pursuit of freedom and human rights, something his predecessor to his credit was never afraid to do.

Obama rationalized his inaction, stating he did not see much difference between the present President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi, despite the fact that Mousavi is viewed as a reformer in a contest of religious extremists.

While Mousavi is no Thomas Jefferson, he is a ray of hope that Iran can begin to transition itself from fascism.

The President has chosen to sit back and be guarded in assisting and encouraging the protestors, despite the fact that the present government of Iran has instigated violence by being the benefactor of terrorist organizations in Iraq and other nations in the Middle East.

What is Obama scared of? That the US will get blamed for instigating democratic change in a regime that is an enemy of not only our country, but every democratic principle this country stands for. We are going to get the blame anyway.

American soldiers are dying daily because of treacherous Iranian interference in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the nations of the world.

Why should be afraid of strongly supporting the efforts of people trying to overthrow a Fascist theocracy that is destabilizing the world? Why should we be afraid of telling the people of Iran that we strongly support an overthrow of their government and all that it stands for?

What would happen if our President got up and said that we strongly support the efforts of the oppressed to democratize their government?

With such words coming from the great Obama, it would electrify the effort in Iran. Would it put more people in the streets of Iranian cities? Absolutely. Would it help to destabilize one of our worst enemies in the world? Absolutely.

Most importantly, it would absolutely show that America did not sit back and say basically nothing at an historic moment when another country in the Middle East was starting down the road to democratic rule?

Would strong words in support of the street protesters from Obama make America look great again? Absolutely.

While our President was taking Father’s Day off to play some golf, the United States officially remained muted in its support for the bloodied protesting for their children’s future in the streets of Iran.

As he shut off his Blackberry and was teeing off, thousands and thousands of people in the United States and the world followed accounts of pitched battles and demonstrations on Twitter, a new messenger of the democratic dream-the American Dream.

Americans also tweeted back that unlike their government, the people of the United States were enthusiastic supporters of the protesters in Iran.

Next week, we will celebrate the day our American forefathers declared
independence from tyrannical rule, the day that officially began the American democratic experience that continues to be the model of freedom throughout our world.

July 4th would be a very good time for our President, who loves to give monumental speeches every week, to give another great speech, this one stating unconditional support for the street protesters in Iran.

President Obama needs to ignore safe polticial instinct and find the fortitude to proclaim our great moral support for those looking shedding their blood in the streets of Iran-drawing parallels to the same way the American experiment was ignited in the streets of Boston against the colonial British.

The least our President on July 4th before he goes to a barbeque or plays golf is grab his Blackberry and send a tweet proclaiming that our minds and hearts are with the Iranian demonstrators as we celebrate our Independence Day.

Check out Kurly's recent articles:

Time for courts to decide a truly decent joke
Judge Sotomayor is really one of the boys

Recent Kurlykomments Tweets:

On July 4th, 2009, you think Americans should be dedicating the day to the protesters in Iran & their fight to overturn fascism & tyranny?
Send following email to Iran at :"Free Iran from Islamic fascism-report and respect true result of Presidential vote-Free Iran"
Hungry and Prague revisited? How come Obama isn't forcefully showing support for those demonstrating in Iran-long live the Bush Doctrine! If you are thinking of a trip to Hawaii next week, you might want to check out the Army/Navy store for some accessories
Age Discrimination in workplace is rampant in recessionary times & SC was totally wrong to judicially legislate high standard of proof.
Minnesota senate debacle shows need for "do over"elections if results statistically even-if within 100ths of pt.Judges shouldn't decide race
More regulation w/o antitrust action by Obama is useless. Need to break up inefficient giants & allow more competiton-natural m/p regulation
Wondering if a starbucks drink has more calories than a Big Mac,
MDs want caps in malpractice cases, but what about better policing & elimination of bad doctors who continue to practice and hurt and kill? Tweeting/blogging stimulating revoltuion in Iran.Revolutionize biz by blogging.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time for courts to decide a decent joke


Since innuendos about Thomas Jefferson’s sexual behavior were circulated in newspapers at the turn of the 19th century, American politicians have had to endure defaming remarks about their private conduct. This week, I examine whether a recent sexual joke by David Letterman concerning a daughter of Governor Sarah Palin was slander. I argue that Palin should sue Letterman not only to right the wrong against her daughter, but to challenge the accepted mores of our society which tolerates jokes and messages of violent sexual behavior toward American women.

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Have a great week. Kurly.

Time for courts to decide a decent joke

Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon. -Gloria Steinem
LAKE WORTH – Last week, David Letterman once again made a not so funny, indecent “joke” at the expense of Governor Sarah Palin-actually, this time, it was about her 14 year old daughter Willow.

After attending an autism event near New York City, Governor Palin and her husband took her daughter Willow to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. A snide Letterman told his audience that the Alaska governor suffered an awkward moment while attending the game:

“During the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.”
Palin rightfully called the joke an insult to young women and Letterman in turn stated that he had meant to joke about Palin’s older daughter Bristol, who recently had a baby out of wedlock.
When Palin basically called Letterman a dirty old man, he argued back that he would have never made an obscene joke about a 14 year old.

So is a bad joke about the wrong daughter so bad and offensive that it deserves all the consideration it is getting?
Letterman’s joke and his defense that the wrong daughter was the butt of the joke are evidence of a conventional tolerance of indecency and cruelty toward political figures, particularly women. Often, as evidenced by Letterman’s joke, members of political families become derivative victims of despicable political pundits and comedians.
The Letterman joke has sparked a debate about a number of issues surrounding both Governor Palin and women in politics, including the fixation by liberal pundits to be totally unfair and cruel to Palin, the acceptance of the use of negative sexual connotations toward women in politics, and the hypocrisy of the leftist, feminist double standard that exists in regard to Palin and other conservative women when it comes to them being negatively attacked in chauvinistic rather than racist terms (it can be framed as the Imus v. Letterman syndrome).

But another major issue that arises from Letterman’s “comic” reference to Willow Palin is whether our libel and slander laws are outdated and inadequate when it comes to public figures being subjected to a lack of decency and sexuality appropriateness, even in the context of protections afforded to the press and speech by our constitution.

David Letterman has every right to make jokes, comments, and observations about Sarah Palin and every other Republican he may hate. Yet, he stepped over the line with the joke about Governor Palin’s daughter (either one ).

As guardians of Willow, Governor Palin and her husband Todd should sue Letterman for making such a vulgar, slanderous remark (so should A-Rod-while he may not be the most drug-free player or faithful husband, he is not a child rapist). The kid, and especially her sexuality, should be off limits to a national audience, no matter if the child appears in public with her famous mother. It’s called common sense decency.

The benchmark case in regard to this issue is New York Times v. Sullivan, which was decided in the early 1960s by the Warren Court. That case was decided in the context surrounding the media reporting of the civil rights movement, when libel and slander laws were used by segregationists to discourage reporting of civil rights events in the South.
The Sullivan decision stated that in order for a public figure to prevail in a defamation case, an “actual malice” standard must be proven, which requires that the public figure prove that the publisher or speaker of the statement must have known that it was false or acted in total disregard of its truth or falsity.

The standard is a very high one for a plaintiff to prove. The result has been that public and political figures have been basically free targets to brutal character assassination in this country for the last 45 years.

Palin has an important opportunity to change an outdated status quo in suing Letterman, CBS, and other companies involved in the production of his program. She should attempt to have the courts throw out Sullivan’s “malicious” standard.
Instead, Palin should seek the establishment of a common sense balancing test between basic decency and privacy concerns for public figures-and their families- and the right to free speech and press, particularly in terms of dialogue concerning sexual violence toward women.
If Letterman refuses to be decent enough to apologize about for the joke itself instead of not using the right name (and milk the controversy to get his ratings up), he needs to state in a court of law how the violent sexual nature of the “joke” was not indecent and slanderous as it pertains to Willow individually and women in general.

If Imus (who really did the correct thing right away by apologizing profusely) had to lose his livelihood for his really stupid racist, sexist remark, Letterman deserves to endure equal pain for his equally inane joke.

So on behalf of her family, all American women and public figures in this country (and Republicans too), Governor Palin needs to challenge the armies of the status quo by fighting back legally, challenging self righteous, nasty douche bags like Letterman in court so at least they, and their media parents, will think twice next time before telling an obscene joke about women and the sexuality of a politician’s child.

Isaac Asimov once stated that “Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments.”
Letterman’s jokes, as well as commentaries by others, about Sarah Palin have always been nasty, overdone, and far from enlightening. It is time that political pundits like him were challenged. Good people don’t run for high public office because of the sleazy, slanderous crap they and their families have to endure from people like Letterman. Governor Palin should sue and eventually have the last laugh in this matter.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Truth and empathy are universal and classless precepts

Dear KurlyReaders:

This week, I examine whether the quote by Supreme Court designee Judge Sonia Sotomayor extolling the wisdom of Hispanic women was actually “racist” and argue that she is basically just one of the “boys” if you consider her legal training and experience.
Please let me know what you think and give me feedback at I would also ask you to send me one email of a friend, relative, or fellow worker who would enjoy receiving Kurly’s Kommentary on a weekly basis.

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Thank you for reading my blog and have a great week. Kurly.
Sonia is really just one of the boys

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Judge Sonia Sotomayor

LAKE WORTH – Between my second and third year of law school, I worked as a law intern in the NYS Attorney General’s office in Buffalo. During that summer, I worked with two African-American law students and we developed a true friendship with one another, learning about each other and our life experiences.

As the summer continued, I began to understand a lingering resentment they nurtured growing up and living in poverty of New York City ghettos. I grew to understand about a cultural sensitivity to racial bigotry which touched their lives on a daily basis.

During the third year of law school, one of them asked me to come to a meeting of BALSA, the Black American Law Student Association to see if I wanted to join the organization.
When it was time for the meeting, I walked into the classroom where it was being held and encountered immediate, intense hostility from some of the law students there. “What are you doing here?” one asked. “You don’t belong here,” another student said to me.

An immediate debate broke out about me attending the meeting between my two friends and others who wanted me to leave. I never forgot the feeling I had of being the only “different” person in the room and feeling the resentment of some to my being there because of the color of my skin.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination for the Supreme Court by President Obama has resulted in the usual hypercritical recrimination associated with the selection of any candidate for the court. Some right wing pundits and politicians have seized on the quote above as evidence that Judge Sotomayor is a “reverse racist” and unfit to preside on the high court.
If anything, the analysis of her statement as racist is nothing more than converse political correctness. The quote in itself is not racist (if anything it is reverse-misogynistic), poorly worded, and just plain self-serving, egotistical crap.
When I read her statement, I understood better than others what she really meant to say based on my own particular law school experiences. However, at the same time, I truly doubted Sotomayor really had endured the true bigotry my friends in law school had really faced in their lives that would define her thinking in such terms.

Sotomayor is not at all the woman she describes in her remark. She has not struggled in her adult life against prejudice, but has instead greatly exploited being a minority woman in the age of affirmative action and political correctness.

Her “racist” statement is evidence of the persona she has developed to help rationalize her actual membership to America’s most elite legal society. She may talk the poverty talk, but her true life experience shows that she is actually no different than the white males she will be joining on the bench.

Judge Sotomayor’s life experience as a Latin woman may have shaped her initial nurturing, but it is important in terms of her appointment to the Supreme Court to separate her childhood upbringing from her professional career, particularly in terms of her interpretation of the rule of law.

Judge Sotomayor’s legal career was foremost shaped by her clinical legal training and professional experience, not her sex, upbringing, or ethnic background. A brilliant person, she was educated at Princeton and Yale Law School, where she was a member of an elite group of students on law review. Her legal experience as a prosecutor, a member of a boutique law firm, as a law professor at NYU and Columbia, and as a privileged Federal judge over a long period of time truly distances herself for the last 35 years from the common man and women in any terms of true empathy gained from life experience.

So, let’s stop pretending that Judge Sotomayor is truly a unique, historic candidate for the Supreme Court. Despite the Obama propaganda, the “richness of her experience” is no different than any other sitting white justice on the Supreme Court. Notwithstanding Sotomayor’s family and ethnic background, she in fact belongs to a very powerful elite club of American lawyers that don’t spend much time preparing Arroz Con Pollo for dinner for a large family.

Even if the facade of struggle being propagated by the Obama Administration is deceptive, it is a mistake to focus on her silly self-serving statement and the Marxist class struggle rhetoric in determining her fitness for the Supreme Court. Instead, let’s judge the Judge strictly on her legal talents and rulings alone and not worry about whether her unique personal ethnic or sexual compassion will make her fit or unfit to sit on the bench.
A debate about whether Judge Sotomayor is racist is an asinine, but caustic distraction that is designed in part to alienate the Republican Party further from American Hispanics and diminish the important process of picking a Supreme Court Justice on the sole merits of her legal decisions and her interpretation of the rule of law.
The true shame of this debate is that the bona fide trials and tribulations of people like my law school friends in Buffalo are being cynically exploited by the President to drive the appointment to the Supreme Court of an otherwise very qualified member of the elite American legal hierarchy.
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Planned obsolescence has become itself obsolete
"Obsolescence never meant the end of anything, it's just the beginning"
Marshall McLuhan

Lake Worth – I am very frustrated.

I am sitting here in an auto repair center, waiting for a mechanic to replace the right low beam headlight in my 2006 Mazda 3. It’s costing me $50.00 I don’t have right now.

Last night, I was pulled over by a Palm Beach County Deputy Sheriff and received a warning ticket from him for driving with a dead headlight. I have to get it fixed.

My car now has 100,000 miles on it. Every mechanic tells me that the car should run up to 300,000 miles easy if I perform the required maintenance. But the question is whether I will be able to afford the cost of parts and maintenance to run it another 100,000 or 200,000 miles.

This week, NASA succeeded in extending the life of the Hubble Telescope another 15 years by replacing parts and simultaneously incorporating new technology into the aging telescope.

The repair of the Hubble Telescope, which was launched in 1990, illustrates that America is still able to produce well-built machinery that lasts for years and that can be modernized with the latest technology to increase longevity and enhance its capability and results.

A fundamental underpinning of our economy is planned obsolescence. Most of our products are designed so that consumers must either replace expensive items after short product cycles or spend more money to fix them than they are worth over time.

As we continue our slide into a depression, it is obvious that this country needs to change the way we both produce and pay for goods and services. Right now, we are a nation of debtors. For the economy to be healthy again, we must learn to live within our means, which requires that we cut back our spending and avoid being in debt.

There has been a high expectation that the Obama Administration was going to make sweeping changes to fix fundamental weaknesses in an economy premised on consumer spending, but except for depleting the Treasury to prop up corrupt lending institutions, no major “changes” are being really discussed or implemented.

One significant change which can be implemented easily would be to take action to discourage planned obsolescence built into products made both here and imported from abroad, so that the average American consumer does not have to constantly be in hock to pay for them.
Obsolescence built into consumer goods drives consumer spending. It causes purchasers to carry a heavy debt load and maintain a reliance on leasing and credit cards to make the purchases.

For example, automobiles are costly and are designed only to last only a certain amount of miles. What’s worse, they utilize technological advances not to improve true durability, but to actually make them more expensive and complex to repair and maintain. Generally, the consumer is punished if he or she tries to fix up a car instead of buying a new one.

If Lockheed can design and manufacture a complex telescope with a lifespan of 15 years, and then with one major repair double the life and increase capacity of the complex instrument, why can’t manufacturers design and sell cars and other big ticket items that are reasonably priced and can fixed and upgraded to last a lifetime?

In addition, if we are so concerned with gas mileage, carbon footprints and otherwise saving the environment, wouldn’t it make sense to put forward a policy to manufacture goods that would last for decades and could be later modified to incorporate technological advances? Such a policy would reduce overall energy consumption, save landfill space, and reduce the depletion of minerals and resources.

Even our tax code wrongfully rewards planned obsolescence in calculating the depreciation of goods by granting less and less tax advantage to businesses as their assets get older. Businesses are encouraged to buy instead of fixing their assets to gain constant tax advantages.

Normally, I would be looking for a new car at this point. But like many Americans, my credit is shot and I can’t even think now about buying a new car. Thankfully, the Japanese are still designing and building their cars to last and hopefully I will be able to afford to get another three years and 100,000 miles out of my car until I can get back on my feet again.

Real changes need to be made to refocus our economic policies toward both mandating and providing tax incentives to encourage the sale and production of technological products that are affordable, durable, and upgradeable.

In 2009, planned obsolescence should become itself an obsolete economic standard. A headlight of a car should be built to shine as long as the Sun-or at least to last as long as the Hubble Telescope continues to send back images of our universe.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“Recession” fries mom and pop restaurants

LAKE WORTH- Last week, one of my favorite hamburger joints closed its doors, another victim of the ongoing “recession.”

I really liked to take the family to Fuddruckers in Wellington. When I read about the restaurant’s demise, it saddened me. It was reasonably priced, there was a great variety of burgers, including veggie, ostrich, and buffalo burgers, and the place had a nice, family atmosphere. When we went there, it was always packed with diners.
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A fine part of “Americana” is being lost in this “recession” as thousands of “mom and pop” eateries and small franchises nationwide are being driven out of business by high food prices and decreased patronage. They can’t compete with large chains like McDonald’s or Denny’s which operate at much lower margins.

Drive up any main street or suburban thoroughfare in any town or city and you will see empty buildings that once hosted traditional family restaurants, burger joints, “diners, drive-ins, and dives.” It’s very sad.

What was very interesting to me was that a spokesman for Fuddruckers was quoted as saying that the restaurant “got tired of breaking even. They were working real hard to break even."

The restaurant was obviously in business to make money and return a profit on investment. But the statement sounded kind of stupid to me. Why would a restaurant, employing over 40 people, not want to stay in business if they were not losing money? In my mind, if they were staying afloat during very hard economic times, they were actually successful and had a great future. They were also keeping 40 workers gainfully employed.

But that does not matter in this day and age, there is no social or moral responsibility toward employees-business is business, period.
Or open until we close for good?

But there is a cost in this type of thinking to all of us. Forty employees losing their jobs, many of them college students, in fact will have a big impact not only on the individuals being put out of work, but to the viability and standard of living of the local community.

The only answer these days being touted by the Obama Administration for saving small businesses is to reestablish the flow of credit from large financial institution to them (and future tax cuts for small businesses, but they are dwarfed by other tax increases that will hit small businesses).

But cheaper credit is not the answer. The whole key to economic recovery to this sector is ending layoffs and closures by providing immediate tax incentives, not more credit, to allow for survival and incremental investment.
Temporary emergency tax breaks and incentives to endangered small businesses would lower margins and help business owners make ends meet.
Furthermore, if wholesale suppliers, landlords and utilities were given tax incentives to pass on in lower costs to endangered small businesses, many distressed businesses could survive these hard times.

Such measures could save thousands of small businesses across the country, including mom and pop restaurants, and be the true jumpstart to economic recovery. It’s not too late.

If the owners of Fuddruckers had been given temporary or emergency tax breaks and incentives after qualifying under parameters that would measure their future viability, they may have been able to achieve the little profit they needed to justify staying open.

Interestingly, a second news item appeared the next day that this Fuddruckers franchise was not paying its workers over $12,000 in wages due to them. All of a sudden too, the owners were now losing $2 million on their investment and were going to file bankruptcy.

So, not only are the workers losing their jobs, but they are getting stiffed out of their wages they had earned. Again, business is business, even if you steal from your workers.

Emergency tax incentives at all levels of government would also be a start toward promoting responsible business behavior in the future. It is long overdue. There is nothing wrong with rewarding a business owner with lower taxes if they make a commitment not only to building a business, but also toward ensuring their employee’s long term employability and well-being.

Also, a great “change” would be to make the repayment of worker’s wages not paid the first priority in any business bankruptcy. They earned the money and should be paid it.

If you get a stimulus check from the government, spend it at a local restaurant. Order a hamburger and fries, but get a glass of water instead of a soda. Then, give your server a bigger tip with the difference saved. It may be his or her last night of employment there.

That is, of course, if you are not heading to McDonald’s for the only available hamburger in town.
Read Kurly's Belated Mother's Day Message
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Celebrate Spring reading "Spring Tribute to Tommy"