Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Diary of Judge Feldman









Dear Diary:

Well, it's been a pretty heady time for me. A few days ago, I blocked that Presidential six-month moratorium on deep water drilling. That's right, I overruled the President of the United States. How cool is that? I got your "separation of powers" right here, Obama. It's no surprise, but some people feel I wasn't the right man to make the decision just because I've had holdings in Halliburton and Transocean Ltd., two of the companies being sued because of this little oil spill accident. Picky, picky, picky.




My decision was quite logical. What I said was, just because one rig failed, that doesn't mean that other rigs present a danger. America is the country of second chances. We gave Bush a second term, didn't we? We don't know that this kind of oil accident will happen again. It's like when a guy kills another guy. We don't know that he'll kill again, so why put him in jail? Give him another chance. If he kills somebody else, then you put him in jail.



I thought it was great when Congressman Joe Barton apologized to BP for everybody picking on BP. It's a shame that he was pressured into an apology for his apology, but he did it in a graceful manner. I have it right here, because I may use the same words someday: "If anything I have said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction." It's just the kind of obfuscation I like for obfuscating.


I know that supporters of Obama's drilling moratorium point out that the moratorium is not forever. It's for six months, and during that period they're supposed to figure out what went wrong and how to prevent this kind of thing from happening again. Doesn't it make more sense to keep the other rigs drilling, and if we find out what went wrong, then just fix it?


There's also been some talk about the Gulf area not being able to survive another disaster after this one. This is an insult to the people of the region. We've seen how resilient the people from New Orleans have been -- well, those who didn't move away.


This is the real world, and it's not run by seafood, fish, and other wildlife. It's run by us – federal judges who have been appointed for life. (I still can't get used to that, my beloved diary). Let's face it, which is more important: keeping stockholders happy or a little bit of oil on a few birds?


Of course, some people think I should recuse myself just because of all of the investments I have had in the oil business. They don't feel I can be fair and impartial in this case. They believe it's "conflicto interesto." To them, I say, "tough-o nougie-ohs." Like I said, I was appointed for life. Besides, my involvement in the oil industry does not affect my decisions on things. Last night, I went out to dinner – I got a great table, by the way. Anyway, I debated between the salmon and the filet mignon and went with the filet. Believe me, my choosing the steak had nothing to do with my involvement with the oil industry. That proves I can be impartial, doesn't it?



That's it for tonight, diary. Oh, I almost forgot. I got this fantastic fruit basket delivered to me today. There was no name on the card. Just initials. B.P.







Saturday, June 19, 2010

Primary Mystery




Since I come from Chicago, people often tease me about the politics of my home city and state. South Carolina is starting to take the heat off my homeland when it comes to scandals. First there was Governor Mark Sanford who claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail while he was actually on the Adultery Trail with his Argentinean mistress. Then Nikki Haley, a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor in the recent election was accused of having an extra-marital affair with a "conservative blogger." Who accused her? The conservative blogger. The latest shocker came when a complete unknown with no ties to powerful politicians, who had not waged a smear campaign, and who made no campaign promises won the Democratic nomination for Governor. Naturally, the professional politicians were outraged.

Alvin Greene, an unemployed veteran, beat Vic Rawl, a former judge and state lawmaker, 59% to 41%. Greene said that he ran because he had turned to the office of Republican incumbent (and candidate) U.S. Senator Jim DeMint for help in dealing with his disability, but got nowhere. When you listen to Greene talk, you certainly believe that he could have some sort of disability, so your heart goes out to him. When I first heard the story, it sounded like an old Frank Capra movie in which a non-politician, a man of the people who lives with his elderly father, whips the political insider. It was just too good to be true.


And it might be. In the movie version of this story, Greene would've made rousing speeches to the common man. Other veterans would have marched to protest the way in which they are mistreated all too often. He would've won debates with his simple, but honest talk. However, none of this happened. So how did he get elected? Also, he's currently facing charges of showing pornography to a college student. How did that fact elude his opponents? Of course, usually college students are showing the rest of us pornography.


One theory is that since South Carolina holds "open primaries," plotting Republicans were behind Greene's election so that Senator DeMint would face an easy foe in the fall election. However, this cynical plot would only work if the bad guy politicians had put Greene's face in front of the voters, if they got throngs of people to show up for rallies, and if they had organized a huge grass roots movement for him to help him win the election. None of these things happened. So even if you believe that some untrustworthy Republicans got his name on the ballot, how did they make him win while keeping him a secret?


Race has been a staple of political scandal, and it has come into this story. State Senator Robert Ford said that he thinks Greene won because he's an African American. (He's not the same Robert Ford who killed Jesse James). Anyway, Ford theorized that the reason Greene won was that even though nobody knew who he was, he got a huge percentage of African American votes because his name ends in an "e." According to Ford, "No white folks have an 'e' on the end of Green. The blacks after they left the plantation couldn't spell, and they threw an 'e' on the end.”


So, he's saying that when African Americans see "Greene," they think black. I don't know. When I see "purple," I don't think "orange."


Besides, what about Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene, writer Graham Greene, and, of course, "Bonanza's" Lorne Greene? They were all "white folks." To make Ford's definitely bizarre and seemingly racist statement all the more interesting is that Ford is black.


If we learn that Greene is a seriously disabled man who really is unqualified for the job, it will be a sad situation. But the question will still be there: how did he get elected?


I hope it turns out that Greene is legit. I hope it's the movie plot in which the simple American citizen defeats the professional politicians just because he is a simple American citizen. On the other hand, if it turns out that chicanery has taken place in the Palmetto State, none of us will be surprised. As I said before, South Carolina is replacing the Windy City and the Land of Lincoln as the home of weird politics. In fact, this replacement might have already taken place. After all, I can't remember the last time I heard a newscaster or a late night host utter those two famous words: Rod Blagojevich.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Royalty In The U.S.?




One thing our Founding Fathers were sure of is that they didn't want a king in this new country. They didn't want one person to be regarded as something so special that people would have to bow down to him and treat him almost like a god. Well, I wonder how the founding fathers would feel right now as there is a campaign throughout the country regarding someone known as King James. In case you're one of those people I don't understand who's not a sports fan, this young man's name is actually LeBron James, he's a great basketball player, and his contract is up. As James decides where he'll play basketball next, ordinary citizens and government officials are treating him like, well, a king.



James is a fantastic player, he's charismatic, and would bring baskets full of cash to whatever city lands him. He wears Number 23 on his jersey, but in the free-agent market, he is Number One. He's only 25 years old, so he probably has many years of basketball left. If you have teenage kids that you'd like to pursue a higher education, don't let them hear LeBron's story. He never went to college, and his next contract will probably be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That's nine-figures! The downside, of course, is that he has missed out on cramming for organic chemistry and analyzing "The Scarlet Letter."



Yet, some people think he's a bargain. His being on a team guarantees more people in the seats, and his being in a city means more visitors, more full hotels and restaurants, and more forged autographs being sold on the street. That's why so many people are kissing this king's ring, or something else of his.



For the past seven years, he's played in the not so flashy city of Cleveland. Now, flashier places like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are trying to lure him away from that city on Lake Erie. James is from Akron, Ohio, just a few of his giant steps from Cleveland. This is one of the reasons that he just might stay and play in Cleveland. One Clevelander has started a website called pleasedontleave23.com. There's also a 212 member LeBron James Grandmother's Fan Club. The Cleveland Orchestra has made a video praising LeBron, as has Ohio's Governor Ted Strickland.



Chicago Bulls fans have a website called, "sendLeBrontochicago.com." David Geffen, media mogul, music producer, and all around rich guy has said that if he can buy 51% of the Los Angeles Clippers, he "guarantees" that he can get LeBron to join that hapless team. And then there's New York.



New York City has a campaign called "C'mon LeBron" that includes T-shirts, billboards, and messages on taxis begging James to come to New York. New York's Mayor Bloomberg actually made a video trying to get LeBron to take a bite of the Big Apple. Fortunately, it's not a music video, but it's still unseemly and embarrassing. Some might even think it's blasphemous (a word that I don't think I've ever used in a column before). At the end of the video, the mayor says, "As the Good Book says, lead us to the promised land." And then with a wink and bad comic timing he adds, "And that's a quote from the King James version."



I know what it is to be a sports fanatic. I admit that I have watched the exact same Sports Center show more than once in a four-hour period. But this goes way beyond the usual abnormal behavior of sports fans. I understand that it's about money and civic pride, but how much pride can a place have if it's willing to do anything to get a 25 year old kid to play a game in their city?



In case you don't think it's more than a bit weird that James has gotten all this attention, there's more: President Obama has weighed in on the subject. First he said that it would be great if James played in Obama's hometown of Chicago. Then I guess his advisers or pollsters told him that statement was a mistake, so Obama said it would be nice if James stayed in Cleveland.



That's right. The President of the United States actually gave his opinion on this issue of vital interest. Who's next? The Dalai Lama? Could be. "Come on, LeBron, play in Tibet. We won't just give you money. If you sign for five years with an option for six plus revenue sharing for public appearances, I'll throw in the secret of life."





Thursday, June 3, 2010

Metrosexual, Schmetrosexual





The line between what is male and what is female continues to blur. Stereotypes are dropping every day. A doctor is not automatically a man; a nurse is not automatically a woman. A pilot can be a female; a flight attendant can be a male. A jerk can be a man or a woman. Someone buying makeup is not necessarily a woman. Today there is even a category of men called, "metrosexual." No, that doesn't mean people who like to have sex on the subway. It refers to men who pay attention to their appearance in a way that stereotypically used to be considered strictly female. The latest woman-man crossover is the girdle for men. It was bound to happen, wasn't it?


Some call this men's girdle a "mirdle." It's not exactly a girdle because of where it's worn. However, it has the same "compression technology" that has been used for some women's undergarments. (An example of this technology in female underwear is actually called the "bra-llelujah)." The most popular of these new male mentionables is a T-shirt/undershirt that emphasizes a man's muscles and minimizes his fat. To me, it just looks like a fifty-dollar undershirt.


For decades, women have campaigned to be entitled to whatever men have. Now it's the male gender's turn to feel entitled to something that has often been the province of women – spending money to move fat around their bodies. (I never really understood the physics of this. If fat is squeezed in one area of the body, doesn't it just pop up somewhere else)?


So in addition to all of the male cosmetics that have become big sellers in recent years, now we have the male slimming garment. I'm sure soon there will be men wearing "mantyhose." There are already underpants for men that have padding in them to give the illusion of having a bigger butt. (Why would ... who knows)? In this era of the sexual equality of spandex, both women and men can satisfy their obsession with making some body parts look smaller and other parts bigger.


But why now? What is it about this era, this zeitgeist that's making men grab $58 slimming T-shirts off the racks faster than they can sing, "I Feel Pretty?" We are in a recession. Money is supposed to be tight, not underwear.


I assume those buying these garments rationalize it. Maybe they'd say it's cheaper than plastic surgery – as if accepting how you look isn't even an alternative. Maybe they're hunting for a job, want to look their best, and feel this new kind of underwear will help them get hired. Okay, but I just can't picture a guy going for a job interview without that butt padding and then after he leaves, those who do the hiring talking about him like this: "He was very qualified, his references were good, and he really seemed to have a handle on what we do here. Obviously, we can't hire him. His butt's too small."


It's possible that all this male over-primping might actually be costing guys jobs. Say a man has a job interview in the morning. He gets up and weighs himself. Then he takes a shower using lavender soap. He washes his hair with a volumizing shampoo followed by an almond conditioner. He dries himself off and looks in one of his way-too-many mirrors. He applies a male cover-up to a blemish. He shaves very carefully, making sure that his shave doesn't make him look as if he's shaved. (Could someone please explain this fashion to me)? Next, he puts on his new slimming and muscle-popping undershirt. He slips on his underpants with the butt pads. He finishes getting dressed and checks himself out in yet another mirror. He looks great. Everything's perfect. So why won't he get the job? By the time he finishes primping and getting dressed, he's two hours late for the interview.




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