Archive for March, 2011

Donald Trump & Birth Certificates

March 29, 2011 1 comment

Donald Trump says it took him all of a half hour to find his own birth certificate. Maybe he should have taken the less than 15 minutes it took for me to find Barack Obama’s.

Politically, I understand why Mr. Trump is putting his celebrity stamp on the “birther” cause; appearing on one TV talk show after another as if it was 2008 and he just discovered a huge conspiracy.  Factually, it’s disingenuous. This has been settled for more than three years now.

We’ll leave aside the point that The Donald’s birth certificate comes nowhere near the standards being demanded of the President’s proof of birth. Trump does not provide a legally legitimate birth certificate and perhaps that’s why it took him less than an hour to get it. He has a copy that was sent to him by his hospital- it has no seal, it is not even an official copy- and it is simply not a legal document in any way, shape or form.

Here, however, is Barack Obama’s legal birth certificate. And you can link to it yourself here.

In a rush to release the documentation in 2008 to counter the rumors about a missing certificate, the Obama campaign staff intially redacted the certificate number as explained by then spokesman, Shauna Daly: “[We] couldn’t get someone on the phone in Hawaii to tell us whether the number represented some secret information, and we erred on the side of blacking it out. Since then we’ve found out it’s pretty irrelevant for the outside world.” The actual certificate on file in Hawaii has the certficate number and a picture of it is below.

Here is a picture of’s, Joe Miller, actually holding the document in his own hands:

This is the signature stamp from the official with the state of Hawaii who authenticated in 2007 that this was a legal copy of the birth certificate:

This is a picture of the raised seal on the back of the birth certificate that further authenticates it:

This is the legal certificate number on the document that also authenticates it:

This is a copy of the birth announcement published in the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper on Sunday, August 13, 1961:

All of the above items are what the Department of State says is needed as proof of American citizenship. Case closed.


I once had to come up with my legal birth certificate in the process of settling my mother’s estate about ten years ago. I had a copy of it, mind you, but that is not a legal document. I had to go through the state of New York, provide notarized proof of my legal identity, and then wait for about three weeks. They give you an authenticated copy because the actual original lives in a vault somewhere.

So it came in the mail and I’ll never forget it because of the postmark on the envelope: September 11, 2001. That’s right. The New York City Health Department, on the day it was beginning to handle hundreds and hundreds of death certificates for the victims of 9/11, had somehow found the time to send me the legal copy of the document authenticating my birth.

There is one thing that deeply disturbs me about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. It indicates that for the first time in my life- a President of the United States is younger than me.

Now, that hurts.

Update:  Donald Trump has located his legal birth certificate and his red-faced staff is now distributing it everywhere.

Brackets, What Brackets?

It was Bill Maher who recently said that if you’re going to show him your March Madness brackets, may as well also trot out the pictures of your kids and your dog too and just show him everything all at once that he’s completely not interested in. 

In that spirit…here’s a picture of my dog:


This is Suki, the dog.  A total ham and scam artist.  She has stopped peeing in the house and has started collecting bird feathers. 

Here’s a picture of my kid:


Charlie is currently blossoming and flourishing at Middle Tennessee State University where on any given night, besides studying very hard, he’s also performing or recording or writing music or engineering, or producing a song or a project or working on getting laid
entering into an enriching and communicative relationship with total sharing and trust.

Here’s a picture of my brackets:

Note how it starts out with so many schools in green colors.  These were winning picks.  I ruled my office pool for the 1st two rounds.  Notice how many schools in the later parts of the tournament are in red.  This is when I got obliterated and all the top college basketball programs in America completely let me down.

I won the office pool last year.  This year, I have been reduced to a laughing stock. 

Oh…and I hate Butler.  Well, “hate” is a strong word.   You can only be Cinderella once every ten years.  Two years in a row and you’re overstaying your welcome and ruining everybody’s brackets.

I hope VCU throttles you. Butler. Please.

Second-Guessing the Libyan Action

Liberals are angry, conservatives are angry. When it comes to the Libya non-war, war, there’s a lot of “coulda-woulda-shoulda” going around, which is particularly easy to throw out there when you’re not the ones who are accountable and don’t have a lot of specific answers of your own.

Is there merit to arguments from both sides of the aisle, that Congress wasn’t consulted enough? Yes. It’s not constitutionally necessary, but it would have been smarter, politically. Is there merit to criticisms that we don’t have an end game? People should certainly be asking questions.

And now comes the observation from folks like Peter Beinart who writes in the Daily Beast that this Libyan affair is evidence that the United States is a fallen empire and that America doesn’t matter anymore.

Here’s two cents:

We should have done nothing?

Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal dictatorship, using mercenaries no doubt paid with the $6 billion in gold he’s sitting on, was about 24 hours away from invading the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. He vowed no mercy. Is it that much of a stretch to think that if there had not been military intervention, there could have been a massacre of tens of thousands of both rebels and innocent civilians? And absent a military response and the subsequent results, what would the critics be saying today? That we were feckless and stood by and dawdled while innocent blood was shed?

We should have acted sooner?

What, on our own? While we’re fighting two wars and our military is stretched so thin our own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, initially wanted no part of it? Unilateral American action would have been difficult logistically and to go in alone in now a third Muslim nation would not have been helpful to our standing in the region. Or we should have organized the coalition sooner? There are 22 countries involved in this Libyan military operation. It takes time to sort out the details.

There’s no end-game?

Well, you should worry because I don’t think anyone has a specific end game in mind. The immediate, urgent point was to save Benghazi. Now it appears the mission has expanded into the imposition of a no-fly, no-drive zone over the entire country. Most analysts doubt Ghaddafi can be ousted without land forces and no one thinks that’s going to happen anytime soon. So here’s your end-game: West Libya and East Libya with Gaddafi running the west and the rebels running the east.

America is a fallen empire?

Part of the case is based on the fact France is beginning to take the lead on this operation. Well…why shouldn’t they? European nations have their own stake in Libya and it’s not just for humanitarian reasons. Italy, France and Spain, for example, imported 22%, 16% and 13% of their oil from Libya in 2010. They have regional and economic motivations for a stable Libya.

That doesn’t mean the U.S. has relinquished its role as a world leader. In fact, this mission couldn’t have gotten started without the U.S. and it’s AWACS planes coordinating air assaults, and about a hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles taking out radar and anti-aircraft assets (at $750,000 per cruise missile, by the way).

You want to talk about a country that’s no longer an empire? I read on an English website that the Brits used one-fourth of their entire Tomahawk arsenal in three days against Libya…all from just one submarine. Not to worry, say the Brits, the Americans can lend us more if we run out.

Well, maybe we’re not an empire anymore. But we sure still seem to be the world’s Sugar Daddy.

Cats Under Attack in NY Times

March 21, 2011 2 comments

I’ll never look at my cats in the same way again. As they sleep their 18 hours a day, all curled up and comfy on the bed looking so cute and innocent- it turns out I have been harboring killers. Murderers; furry, purring, ecological terrorists. It’s in the New York Times.

Granted, one has to consider the source and in this case it’s the American Bird Conservancy. They are reacting to a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that has come to the startling conclusion that cats kill birds. I don’t mean every now and then. I mean- all the time. The study involved the mortality of baby gray cat birds in the Washington, D.C. suburbs (ironic name, don’t you think?).

The findings conclude that cats were the number one killer of these cat birds by a large margin.

Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths, according to the researchers, from the Smithsonian Institution and Towson University in Maryland….

Predation was so serious in some areas that the catbirds could not replace their numbers for the next generation, according to the researchers, who affixed tiny radio transmitters to the birds to follow them. It is the first scientific study to calculate what fraction of bird deaths during the vulnerable fledgling stage can be attributed to cats.

People used to think wind turbines were one of the main killers of birds. Not so. Some 440,000 birds meet their cruel fate each year at the hand of a rapidly turning wind propeller-thing. But the American Bird Conservancy estimates 500 million birds are killed each year by cats- about half of them domestic, and the other half feral.

There’s passionate outrage today in the bird-loving community. From Darin Schroeder, the group’s vice president for conservation advocacy:

I hope we can now stop minimizing and trivializing the impacts that outdoor cats have on the environment and start addressing the serious problem of cat predation.

Well, it’s certainly a serious problem for birds, anyway. And it has most definitely raised the ire of Peter Mara of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

They are like gypsy moths and kudzu — they cause major ecological disruption.

Turns out the household cat is not supposed to be in North America. They were introduced by the colonists back in the 16th and 17th centuries and according to the New York Times, “they are regarded as an invasive species and have few natural enemies to check their numbers.”

Outraged by all this, is Sylvester, the cat, recently re-signed to a long-term, multi-year contract by Warner Brothers. Sylvester, known to have had a long-running bird “problem,” claims to have reformed his ways having recently graduated from an unnamed bird addiction facility near Monterey, California. But he takes umbrage at the suggestion his species is single-handedly responsible for most bird deaths in the United States.

“Let’s face it, they have tiny little brains and they are not the swiftest, smartest life form to inhabit the planet,” says Sylvester from his home in the Hollywood Hills. “For some scientist who’s obsessed with these creatures to call us cats the same thing as ‘Gypsy moths’ and ‘Kudzu’, is beyond the pale- completely prepothterouth [preposterous].”

“What’s next, a study by the American Rodent Inthtitute?” asks, Sylvester, sarcastically. “The American Catnip Preservation Society?” He seems on a roll as the conversation nears its end.

“I gave up birds for good this January. One could land on my shoulder right now and I wouldn’t even look. But that’s because I’m Sylvester, the cat. I am strong, I am proud, hear me roar. I am a cat with tiger-blood in his veins. But many of my brothers and sisters are not as strong as me and I will not blame them. It’s what we do. We’re wired that way. We’re on this continent now and people are just going to have to deal with us.”

In God We Trust

Because we are in the midst of great peace and prosperity and because the world is so tranquil and free of problems at the moment, a Congressional committee is taking time today to consider a resolution that will reaffirm the phrase “In God We Trust” as our national motto.

Virginia lawmaker, Randy Forbes’ resolution also encourages using the motto in schools and public buildings. It’s not specifically mentioned in the legislation, but I am assuming we will want to keep using the phrase on our currency as well.

Here are some other well-known phrases and words we also need to reaffirm right away:

E Pluribus Unum

This one could be controversial. It’s kind of foreign-sounding. And it means “Out of many, one.” I see some trouble brewing there, but as it would be difficult to remove from every seal of the United States, it has a chance of remaining with us for awhile. But just to make sure, we should reaffirm it.

Apple Pie

It’s not just a food. It is the main thing that things are as American as. Something tells me I have just committed a grave grammatical offense in that last sentence there. But I digress. It is urgent we reaffirm the importance of this historically significant dessert.

One, Two, Three Strikes, You’re Out

The key phrase sung by millions of Americans in between the top and bottom of the 7th inning of the game that used to be known as the national pastime. Also, what may eventually occur to lawmakers who continue to propose legislation reaffirming well-accepted American phrases and mottos.


I am for God. I fully support God. Though he and I have an extremely complicated relationship, we talk all the time and, in the end, he always seems to treat me way better than I probably deserve. So when it comes to God, I, like, totally trust him.

Japan’s Nuclear Heroes

Amidst the uncertainty and potential of a nuclear catastrophe the world has never seen on such a scale, there are selfless heroes working at great personal risk at this hour to contain the specter of unspeakable disaster. Someday the story will emerge of the heroic fight that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It is a horrendous irony that the only people to have suffered the brunt of a nuclear attack during World War II, should be the ones having to cope with the nuclear dangers that have been unleashed in the wake of Friday’s 9.0 earthquake. And among the brave and suffering Japanese people right now are an estimated 50 safety workers toiling at great personal risk to contain and prevent a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima reactor #2.

The story is changing by the hour but what Monday night looked like the sure unfolding of a calamity has now stabilized somewhat as spiking radiation levels near the plant have come down considerably. These Japanese safety workers look for all the world like the first responders of 9/11. They are almost certainly sacrificing their lives, through either further explosions (and there have already been three at the plant including one at reactor #2) or acute radiation poisoning.

Their continued presence offers hope. The implications, if they should have to leave, are bleak. From the New York Times:

If all workers do in fact leave the plant, the nuclear fuel in all three reactors is likely to melt down, which would lead to wholesale releases of radioactive material — by far the largest accident of its kind since Chernobyl.

Tokyo, with a population near 13 million, and one of the largest cities on the planet Earth, is just 170 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Though radiation readings there have recently abated, the city government reported Monday that they had occasionally exceeded normal levels by 20 times.

For the Japanese people, many lives are depending on the success of those 50 brave souls working at great peril for the greater good at the Fukushima plant. Besides them, only the fickle direction of the wind may determine who eventually gets sick, who dies and who lives.

Interesting Week…

March 11, 2011 2 comments

Apologies for the lack of posts this week, but for reasons I can’t explain, it has been imperative to maintain radio silence. But I just knew Tuesday was going to be a bad day.

Call me superstitious, but I can tell how a day is going to go within the first 17 minutes of getting out of bed. Stupid little things like your trousers falling off a hanger tell you something. Or maybe you bang your fingers against the cupboard while you’re reaching for the cat food. Or one of the damn cats trips you while you’re trying to make your way to the bathroom.

On this particular Tuesday, everything was fine until I tried to tie my left shoe. The lace snapped. I hate it when that happens. It’s one of the rudest things a shoe can do. Unless you happen to have an extra set of laces handy, (and, really, who does?) you have to take the remnants of the lace and rethread the damn thing impossibly through the little eyelets.
This is not possible for a 54-year old man to do in a dark room without his glasses on. So I turned on the lamp and…whoa….the bulb burned out with that startling little flash and pop that immediately makes you wonder if you remembered to buy extra bulbs the last time you went to the grocery store.

You have to understand…the shoe lace snapping and the bulb incident happened within about 15 seconds of each other. I should have called it a day right then and there. I should have called my boss and said, “Boss, I can’t explain right now, but I can’t come in today. Something’s happened.”

But, no- I went into work. Can’t talk about what happened there. All I can tell you is that some guy who works for my company had the most expensive lunch in the history of modern civilization. The tab may end up being somewhere near $430 million.

I know…weird, right? I kept thinking of the shoe lace and the light bulb. Really bad omens. All my superstitions verified.

Then Thursday night came along and I had to attend a black-tie affair at a swanky hotel in downtown D.C. But I was running late because more stuff happened at work that I can’t talk about. Have you ever tried to put on a tuxedo in a hurry? It’s friggin’ impossible.

First, I couldn’t find the damn black buttons and cuff links. Tuxedo shirts have regular white sewn buttons, but they also have little holes next to them through which you insert the black buttons. Without them, you can still button the shirt but you look like a dweeb; like you don’t know you’re supposed to use the black buttons. And the only available cuff links I have at the moment, inexplicably, have the seal of the United States on them, which is a very odd set of cuff links to wear with a tuxedo.

But I rummaged through my apartment and finally found the official black buttons and cuff links. Putting them on in a rush is not as easy as it sounds. But I did it. I high-tailed it to G street, hailed a cab and arrived at my function only 7 minutes late. The meal was quite tasty and the evening was rather inspiring.

I’m thinking there’s some hope for Friday.

Here Comes the Damned Time Change

Our national campaign to increase sleep disorders and make people artificially change their lives so they now have to do early-morning jogs or walk their dogs in total darkness- is coming this Sunday!

I wrote extensively about the change to Daylight Savings time here last year, and I will do so every single year- so much so that when you see a similar rant like this in 2012 and 2013 and 2014 and 2015, it will automatically remind you to change your smoke detector batteries.

It’s just silly, willful self-deception with bogus claims of energy savings and crime reduction. And it kills.

This is not a trivial matter. Studies have found that seasonal changes in the circadian rhythm can be severe and last for weeks. A 2008 study found male suicide rates rose during the three weeks after the change to Savings time. Another study found heart attacks are significantly more common in the first three days after the Spring time-change….

No one has really figured out how much energy it saves. It certainly used to mean savings when the use of incandescent light bulbs was a big deal and more daylight after work meant less use of electricity. But increasingly, our uses of power are not tied to light. We don’t use computers any less because it’s darker in the morning or lighter in the evening.

I also point out that if the benefits of savings time are so great…why go back to standard time at all? Why not stay on one time, forever and ever and stop screwing with our lives? It’s ok to go back in November to five months of wasting energy and committing more crimes?

If I was a clever criminal, I’d set my alarm two hours early and be ready, dark and early Monday morning, for the first jogger or dog-walker who appeared in my sights. For the record, I am not clever, but if I was criminally inclined I’d be too damned tired to get up before 10am, EDT, Monday, anyway so you’ll certainly be safe from me.

Which goes to the whole point about self-deception. Savings time proponents argue…hey…you get a whole hour more light! No, Bunky…you just swapped the daylight at the end of the day for darkness at the start of the day.

A dear reader put it this way recently. Her name is Mary and that’s all I know about her but here’s her comment to my post on this last year….

More daylight? Really….? The days get longer and longer on their own as the solstice approaches….stealing it from the first part of the day does not give any MORE daylight to anyone, just reassigns it to the end of the day. How can we get our morning light back? All of us morning joggers, swimmers, dog walkers etc….we wanna know!

Yeah! What she said.

The Jobless Front: Better News & Still a Long Way to Go

The Bureau of Labor statistics reports unemployment dropped to 8.9% while nearly 200,000 jobs were added last month. It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye, but counting “discouraged workers,” the real unemployment rate is still a stubbornly high 15.9%.

Since December of 2007, 7.7 million jobs have been lost. At the rate of 200,000 jobs a month, it would take three years to get back to those levels. The New York Times explains all in this piece that pretty accurately forecast today’s figures.

What’s disconcerting is the disturbing trend over the past couple of years that with every sign of an improving economy, oil prices go up as speculators anticipate increased demand. Throw in the unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa and dramatically higher gas prices over the spring and summer could threaten this modest recovery that appears to be underway. Just can’t buy as many goodies when it’s costing you $70 every time you gas up and consumer spending is a huge factor in our economy.

High gas prices also make everything more expensive because of increased transportation costs getting goods to market, so that raises the specter of inflation. Only way to combat that is to raise interest rates.

But it’s not all bad news. The real jobless rate of 15.9% reflects a drop from 16.1%. And a quarter of a million of us found jobs in February while 190,000 fewer people described themselves as wanting a job but unable to find one.

All the nice economic numbers in the world mean nothing, of course, if you find yourself on the unemployment line. But it is possible to take heart that chances seem to be improving for finding work out there. The job gains are in many different sectors including manufacturing, professional and business services and health care. The situation is still not bright in retail and very bad in the public sector- government jobs.

It is truly sobering how hard we have been hit over the past three years and how much longer it will take before we get back to anything resembling normalcy.

Unlocking the Keys to the Stanley Cup

Apologies to my readers who don’t give a hoot about sports or particularly, hockey, but as I live one block from the Verizon Center, it was nice for a change to hear some blaring horns on the street the other night as the Washington Capitals got an amazing overtime goal from the ‘Great 8,’ Alex Ovechkin, and defeated the New York Rangers 2-1.

I feel very, very good about the Cap’s chances in the NHL playoffs this year for several reasons:

1) They do not have the best record in hockey
2) They are not leading their division
3) They are not doing well at home lately
4) They are no longer the goal-scoring machine they once were

Seems counter-intuitive I know, but as any hockey fan will tell you, the playoffs have absolutely nothing to do with the 82 games that are played during the regular season. The playoffs are a whole new deal and we learned this in spades last year when the Caps posted the best record in the sport and were ousted in the 1st round by what were then considered the lowly Montreal Canadiens.

I wrote a bitter and sad post that made the following points:

Home Ice Does Not Matter

There is no advantage to playing at home. In fact, as three of the four division winners in the Eastern Conference can attest- home ice is actually a disadvantage.

Having the Best Record in the Regular Season Does Not Matter

All it gets you is home-ice advantage. See above. And it guarantees you will play a dangerous team that has nothing to lose.

The 82 Regular Season Games You Play Mean Absolutely Nothing

Other than to qualify for the post-season, play mediocre hockey and just barely squeak into the playoffs. This will give you both the away-ice advantage and tremendously reduced expectations.

You Don’t Need Such a High-flying Offense

It masks your defensive liabilities. If one hot goalie can shut down your entire offensive juggernaut in the playoffs it doesn’t really matter how many goals you scored in the regular season.

Well amazingly enough….the Caps are playing just well enough to be comfortably in the playoffs…but without any of the expectations of last year’s team. This year, it’s the Caps that will be the dangerous team with nothing to lose. We no longer have the imposing offense whose regular season success masked our defensive weaknesses. This year, the Caps have crafted a different image of themselves, concentrating on defense instead of offense.

The transition has not been easy, but they’re getting there and by playoff time should just about have this new approach down pat.

You have to love a team that actually learns from experience. This season, it seems the Caps have redesigned themselves, not for the regular season, but for the season that counts- the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Go Red.

P.S. I’m begging you…Ted Leonsis…please purchase the Washington Redskins.