Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wrong Storm, Wrong Place

Sad ironies abound in the accounts of Irene's devastation in the Catskills and Vermont.

Who might have predicted that the Mayor of New York would order evacuation of parts of the mighty city, driving some folks to the northern latitudes for safety? And that those northern havens would then get flooded like nobody's business as Lower Manhattan stayed pretty much okay?

Who had mapped the possibility of intense flooding hundreds of miles inland even as reporters dutifully manned it out safely on the blustery beaches? Who might have predicted Senator Bernie Sanders (I)-VT bellowing for aid on national news as smug simpletons in Washington dryly state that federal disaster aid is more or less a lousy idea and that we really can't afford it?

Who could have predicted that anyone in any public office at any point in time would have the temerity to suggest the United States cannot take care of disaster-struck citizens?

Who could have predicted that States' Rights would be invoked in the middle of a hurricane?

How about this: New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and like places that send much more to the Feds than they ever get back--how about we invoke our states' rights? How about we just throw off Alabama and Texas from our backs and set our own standards and with all the money we saved by not supporting givebacks to red states, build ourselves anew?

How quickly would that action provoke a call for unity by the hypocrites now claiming they can't rescue Vermont from the worst disaster in its history?

Call their bluff. Sure. States' rights. Tell me when we start. And by the way, some of y'all may need passports to come here if you want to help with the flood cleanup.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Will Never Again Say The Government Does Nothing

My last post was a fairly desperate affair, telling of abuse and partial ruination by the state. You know, where they taxed me thousands and then ruined my credit? Great human drama,that.

But it turned out with a happy ending.

First I tried to talk with the tax bureau itself and encountered only a clown, a doofus and a give-a-shit attitude throughout. Then I got in touch with my local state senator's office (Sheldon Silver) and spoke to a young man there who took the case under his wing. After a few conversations with me and one false start, he actually got someone at the tax compliance bureau to do something I thought impossible:

They vacated the tax liens. This means they disappear from the record (of course they are paid). This means they take the downward pressure off one's credit rating which, as we all know, is like having your oxygen back, financially speaking.

So even though I have been a doubting progressive (in other words, I always think government can do good, but have almost never seen it and must own to almost a libertarian's native distrust of functionaries and postal-types), I can no longer say it's folly to "call your congressman" because this time it really really worked.

Hats off to the office of Sheldon Silver and the summer intern who hooked me up!

One hopes I shan't wait forever to post again here. . .

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This is Normal?

You tell me.

One day an indifferently attired individual shows up in your building lobby and tells you you owe thousands of dollars to the State. They may or may not throw a copy of something at you and warn you to pay up before the end of the year (you are so upset you don't recall). You don't read the copy, if you ever had it. You are freaked out.

Before the end of the year you pay thousands to the State.

Apparently not enough!

Then, without having signed for service of any further documents, you find out one day that your bank account is frozen because the State has obtained a tax lien against your assets. By doing so they have also ruined your credit. You are applying to a bank for a line of business credit and are made to look like a liar because you did not know of this tax lien.

You discover that the State has conducted an audit without your knowledge, has determined unilaterally about money owed, posted penalties for it, and gone to court without giving you an opportunity to defend. You pay the additional thousands in order to unfreeze your account.

Your credit is still a mess.

The so-called State Taxpayer Advocate is a jokester who tells you this happens all the time. You hang up on him.

You prepare to write to your congressperson.

But nothing can take away the feeling that you have been abused by the State and have no recourse.

So, is that even halfway normal?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

To a Loyal Consituency

Hello to all who come this way. Your viewership is greatly appreciated.

I have been preoccupied with business matters of late and have been unable to post as regularly as I would like.

[NOTE: Special One-time Crypticism License granted to accommodate the following]

On very recent evidence, it certainly seems like this blog--or at least its printed name--is showing up in some very interesting places! Those who know, know who they are. And yes, we had already guessed as much.

Quick--catch a sniff of the greasepaint before it's gone!

[NOTE: End of cryptic session]

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sell the Mets

Spring, and what better way to spend a kind April afternoon than at a doubleheader? In the spirit of Ernie Banks I thought, "Let's play two!".

Okay, I got there after the home team at a field called Citi had lost the opener. So the ballpark was not exactly hopping with excitement. Naturally they lost game two. And the piped in music was literally so loud I could not talk to anyone nor hear myself think. And I was frisked on my way in like a perp. What fun!

But this is only partly about how poorly the actual team in question (The New York Metropolitans)executes on the field (and boy do they fail to execute!).

Mainly it is about the clueless deformation and diminution of what remains one of the most valuable property-types in sports--an MLB franchise in the nation's largest and most sports-hungry market.

How did owner Wilpon allow his golden ball club to get as squalid and tarnished as it now comes across?

Mainly, the Wilpon problem appears to be born of both idiocy and duplicity--but that is only a guess based on what I can observe.

Here is a version of the misdeeds leading up to my call for the Wilpons to get out of the baseball business rapidly, before they utterly destroy the franchise.

Let us go back to the first dumb move: They hired as GM a guy, likable and NewYorky as he was (Omar Minaya), whose main theory seemed to be that the cure to any baseball ill was to add more Hispanic members to the roster. And apart from David Wright (more on him soon), it seems every high profile player Minaya bought or traded for or raised on the farm was Hispanic and it seemed to matter almost not at all whether that person was the best person for the job. And mind you, I believe baseball in general should be thrilled that Hispanics as a group have taken up a love of baseball because no one else seems to "get it" throughout the whole wide world except for the Japanese.

But that does not change the fact that the Mets had as a personnel strategy not a "best in class" approach but some other approach not based on being simply the best.

Second dumb move: hanging on to Jose Reyes and David Wright after several losing seasons. Considering their value on the trade market, and the fact that the team can finish poorly without either of the two players above, these men ought to have been traded already. Reyes is talented but undisciplined and inconsistent. Wright is a solid player but not anything like the superstar face-of-the-franchise they want him to be. One struggles to recall even a single clutch hit by Mr. Wright over the past several years ('nuf said).

Third dumb move: Building the clueless abomination that is their new ballpark, to wit:

-it is named after a notoriously awful bank that helped bring down the entire economy

-its welcoming rotunda honors a player who never played for the Mets, while relegating famous Mets to some other unknown place in the park

-the stadium design is "cookie cutter quirky", trying in vain to mimic Camden Yards and the Jake

-the color scheme in the park is black and orange, which matches nothing to do with the team and looks like a halloween show

-Shake Shack is the most interesting thing at the park, including the team

-rather than renovating historic, decrepit, subway-station-like, lovable old Shea, they tore it down and instead spent a billion dollars on a new park that nobody cares about and nobody needed.

Fourth and most current dumb move: associating themselves with the biggest crook in all history, Mr. Bernie Madoff, once a family friend--now in a dark cell where he belongs.

It is true they have cobbled a new management team this year--a couple of California guys who've had some success. But the team today is four and eleven and looks exactly as lifeless as it did last year and the year before.

Put all that together with successive awful seasons including two-in-a-row historical collapses, and you have a team without leadership, without much to be proud of, and very little to no likability at all.

For the betterment of the National League fan base in New York, the Wilpons should divest themselves of the Mets and let someone take over who knows a little something about both baseball and team spirit.

Sell! The price will not be higher any time soon.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patty's Day in New York

We barely saw them from Vanderbilt and Forty-Second, the multitudinous in green on each others' shoulders cheering the marching band skirling in skirts; and a man in a revolutionary war costume brought a flintlock blunderbuss out in the sun, the only sunny day the saint of no snakes has had in these parts in many years: always those girls scantily clad and kicking in the cold, not to feel badly for them. Who doesn't love a parade?

In Grand Central they wore green hats, shoes, masks; always these were people who never come to the city for any purpose ever but St. Patrick's day or a wedding; more obvious even than the Catholics with their ashes on a certain Wednesday (probably the dying-est tradition in New York)are these well scrubbed suburban visitors, looking vigorous and lost.

They say the crowds were thick on Fifth Avenue.

And little seemed to trouble passersby less than the lone young woman asking alms for Japan.

There seems to be some sense that the Japanese, however this might be horrific, are expected to take care of this themselves and they know it, and this is why they have not been forthcoming about the forthcoming meltdowns.

Nine dash oh quake, 30 foot water wave, three, many meltdowns perhaps now in progress at Fukushima. Tens of thousands lost already in totally destroyed seaside towns along the northeast coast of Japan. Americans advised to stay fifty miles from the tidally compromised, coolant-deprived reactors as attempts to slow meltdowns becomes more and more makeshift and outlandish. Choppers drop water as if to put out a forest fire but this is no forest fire, it is eternal flame compared to forest fire and requires many many times more water than any chopper can drop.

Late news tonight, power restored to one of the plants but that doesn't mean they have anything left to turn on. But with power in the area, they may be able to get some real work done.

Fifth Avenue runs a long way uptown. Following it you can end up heading straight up the Hudson Valley and eventually after that you might get to a town called Buchanan 25 miles north and there'd be an outdated nuclear plant looking dirty and rundown and apparently near faultlines this writer never knew of and now the very Governor of the Empire State wants Indian Point decertified and shut down.

The plant supplies less than twelve percent of the NYC's electric and we're thinking the gubnah should have our support.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Labor Day is Back

So you thought you were smart, thou anti-labor governor with ye crackdown on workers' rights.

And what had long lain dormant and acquiescent showed up overnight in your office hallway in the tens of thousands. They seemed not to like what you wanted to do with their right to bargain collectively. Which attempt by you was as mad and wrong headed as if a Dem governor tried to tax away all profit and then some; worse, as if to declare that profit itself were the culprit and as such must be trampled. For the money charged has to be directed somewhere, and those who send and collect the invoices want the most they can get for themselves and cannot give up any part of it for it is already all leveraged in the market.

Mr. Wisconsin (R) Gov. made a mistake here by kicking a dog that had gotten used to nudging down the years but not hard kicks, and the dog is baring some teeth after getting kicked.

That and (incredibly as it might have seemed even at Christmas 2010) Egypt 2011 are inspirations for this worker uprising in the land where the Wobblies once stood, where unionists and Old Lefties were hiding out in the hills all these years.

That a nation called Egypt could in any way contribute positively to the world today, should be considered a near miracle of historical proportions. Sustenance comes in time from odd places. That and of course: somehow this ancient land is the one that topples a world-class dictator, which now pulls the Colonel down the terlet where he probably belongs although his devil-clown mincing has always come across as amusing in the worst Berlin/20s fashion; which leads to Bahrain and Algeria--and pretty soon you've got an uprising on your hands. What happens if it endangers the Saudi interest unduly?

But we digress. Why did Wisconsin Governor want to hit hard in Wisconsin? Because this is where the old Wobblies came from, and the old lefties in the hills. If they could destroy this remnant, they could say they had no midwest opposition except Chicago where, to all sane persons' dismay, Tiny Dancer is now Mayor of Hog Butcher to the World.

I'iiiiiiiing just kiiiiiiiidiiiiiiiing! (Loud and with humility)

But we always did have a problem with Chicago and its Daleys, didn't we, sir Wisconsin of Milwaukee fame? By golly with Ohio always halfway, Indiana down red, KY red, the rest on the edge, we could rule the Mississippi valley if we could gut out the Chi-town effect one way or another.

But that comes next. That comes after trying to rabbit-punch a guy in a fair match--his "yuh well, you can't like, negotiate", like--come again? We the workers cannot what? With the shite we put up with you and your punchclocks and disdain and the profit of our labors, you are telling us what?

I didn't think so.

We will be camping out here for a while, Joker.

You have awoken Labor, Dear Joker.

Wait 'til Labor Day '11.