Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: January 2005

Is this where I put in key words such as sex, lesbians, vampires, Christopher Lloyd and others things to which this blog do not pertain, but by putting them here, I may get hits from all the Christoper Lloyd lesbian vampire fans (and you know who you are)? This is the primarily humorous and occasionally rambling writings of Leon Tchaikovsky, humor writer. Enjoy.

Monday, January 31, 2005

How Would You Do Living on the Minimum Wage?

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

The argument most opponents of increasing the minimum wage use is they state jobs will be lost. Most studies find the loss of employment, through increasing the minimum wage, are minimal at most.

The reality is the total amount of money involved in businesses paying the increase to the lowest wage earners is usually a small fraction of the total cost to a business. Since the minimum wage has last been increased in 1997, the “pain to business” for the cost of paying the minimum wage has been eaten away by inflation and the businesses have received a break in continuing to pay employees the minimum wage. Other costs to businesses have increased during this time: cost of capital, the cost of pay to all other employees, etc. The only cost that has not increased is the cost of hiring minimum wage employees. The amount of money involved in increasing the cost of paying the lowest wage earners is usually not a major cost to businesses.

Increasing the minimum wage often has been found to be good for businesses. Most jobs at the minimum wage are the ones with direct contact with customers—the people behind the cash register, the sales help, the people who clean hotel rooms, etc. Employers are discovering that increasing the pay to such employees keeps these employees happier and they remain on their jobs longer. This lowers the costs of searching for and hiring new employees and then training them. There are also productivity losses from new employees who are unfamiliar with the duties of their new positions. As these are often the employees who have direct contact with customers, this can have far reaching consequences should customers be dissatisfied with their service. Maintaining experienced employees can be crucial to many businesses.

There have been many incidences where increasing the minimum wage increases employment. Employers have discovered that keeping experienced employees on positions such as cashier keeps the flow of customers moving more rapidly with the resulting smaller lines then bringing in more customers. This then requires more cashiers. Businesses have had difficulty attracting qualified employees at such low wages. The higher wages attracts a large pool of applicants. At the higher wages, more good cashiers can be hired.

Even when there are minimal losses of jobs due to increasing the minimum wage, the basic issue of fairness remains. Is it fair to force someone to work at a wage where, working full time, year round a person can not reach even the poverty level? Basic respect for humans demands this pay increase. There have been employers who have stated they laid-off employees due to increasing the minimum wage, yet these employees then find other jobs at the more decent wage rate. The question really is: what is the lowest level of decency we should provide to someone who works? The minimum wage should be increased.

Life, Or a Reasonable Facsimile

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

Never underestimate the power of the youth of America to reason. They are the future of our society. Which will probably explain decades from now why we are an impoverished country looking up to more superior countries such as China, India, and Independent Nation of Maine.

An African American woman—and, I do wish to stress that this was an African American woman and that I am a Caucasian male—put her photo ID on a counter while making a purchase. For reasons known only to him, the young cashier picked up her ID. Maybe he thought someone earlier had left it behind. The casher looked at the photograph on the ID—and I do wish to stress that he looked at the photograph—and then he looked at the African American woman and at me—and I do wish to remind readers that the woman is an African American woman and I am a male Caucasian—and then he said to me “Sir, is this yours?”

Which leads to me to one and only possible reaction I should have: since when am I a sir?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Hey, I Can't Think of a Funny Title Every Stupid Time, OK?

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

I attended the Pennsylvania versus Brown basketball game. A group of students painted letters onto their chests and stood attempting to spell out something. As best as I could tell, they were spelling “PENN IS MIGHTIER.” Which makes for a good slogan for the Penn team. Of course, every now and then, it seemed one of the Ns was missing, which spells something entirely different.

Penn sports are an interesting thing. There is a tradition that football fans throw toast onto the field when the school song gets to the words “here’s a toast to dear old Penn”. When I was a freshman, I didn’t quite grasp the concept, and I had taken a frozen bread from the freezer and I threw the whole loaf from the second level. It was a messy sight: landed on a helmet. There were bits and pieces of helmet everywhere…

Penn won the game against Brown. The victory is, of course, pending a recount of these baskets by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Mayor of Philadelphia claimed he has cleaned the train station of beggars. Hah! I have never been in Philadelphia’s station without being hit with a beggar. This time, I got hit by five beggars. What I found interesting was one tried a whole new tactic. He claimed he needed dollar bills to give to strippers. I wonder if that pitch actually works.

I should tell that beggar to be careful of women. Be careful of advertising found in personals section. A woman who says in a personal ad that her measurements are 36-24-36 is still being truthful, even if the measurements are not actually in that order.

Consumers beware. Have you noticed how many 99 cent items can be sold for $19.99 as long as it is advertised on television? Of course, if you don’t take to think about it, they’ll double your order, so you are only out $18 instead of $19 (not counting shipping and handling, where you pay five bucks for fifty cents in postage, but, of course, the other stuff is that critical “handling” of your money all the way to the bank), assuming, of course, you actually ever use the thing and get your dollars use out of it.

My intern is a law student who wants to be a lobbyist. I had to explain to her the difference between a lawyer and a lobbyist is that a lawyer knows at least some of his clients will be innocent.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Book Review: "Heavy Lifting"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

Alan Rosenthal, the world’s foremost academic authority on state legislatures (a high standard that is met even though he is perhaps the only political scientist who concentrates his studies on state legislatures) has published another insightful look into state legislatures. In this latest study, “Heavy Lifting”, we learn that most of the public has a good idea how legislatures operate, and they don’t like what they see.

The legislature system is designed to look bad in the public eye. Legislators may do a good job fighting for their constituencies, and thus garner the support of the people of their district, yet the interests behind these constituents conflicts with interests represented by other legislators. The meshing of these interests lead to struggles, defeats, and compromises that fail to fully please the interests at hand. From the standpoint of constituents that are viewing an outcome that failed to meet their expectation, the legislative process is a failure. From the standpoint of analyzing how legislative systems should operate, the process may be basically the best possible operation.

The expectations the public has of legislatures has changed, according to Alan Rosenthal. Constituency groups decades ago perhaps understood the reality of compromise better than advocates today realize. The media, which observes that conflict is more interesting than everyday good news, seems more apt to cover the battles of ideas within legislatures. The increasing expense and negativity of political campaigns exacerbates the legislatures’ declining perceptions.

The constituent demands upon legislatures appear to be increasing while the available amount of time does not increase. Even gaining support of a majority of both houses of a legislature is not always enough, as the Governor then plays a critical role. Governors present various leadership styles and abilities to cooperate with legislatures, who themselves can be supportive or detrimental towards resolving conflicts between the branches of government.

A good legislator, according to Alan Rosenthal, is one who successfully represents his district’s constituents, is skillful at the lawmaking process, and is able to properly balance the legislative role with the role of the Governor. The author surveyed Ohio legislators and found that 62% of Senators and 56% of Representatives surveyed stated that believed more attention to their representational duties would make them better legislators and that 38% of Senators and 44% of Representatives stated more attention to their lawmaking responsibilities would make them better legislators.

Legislators are busy, including legislators from states where the legislature is considered part time. The author surveyed legislators in five states and discovered that 46% of legislators responding stated they spent 60 or more hours per week at their legislative jobs while 29% states they spent from 50 to 59 hours. The number of hours spent working was higher for legislators who served longer, which reflects the additional duties often given to veteran legislators.

The author believes most legislators do successfully represent their districts. They identify with the people of their districts and their needs. Advocating their concerns before both the legislature and administrative agencies is seen a key purpose of their legislative duties. This provides many legislators with the sense of fulfillment they seek from being legislators.

19,000 people from all states were surveyed. It was found that, over the past two decades, 7% stated they had contacted their state representative and 5% stated they had contacted their state senate. While much of such contact was part of an organized effort to contact legislators, it does show that a sizable number of people have personally invested time in reaching out to their representatives. This contact becomes muddled, as there seldom is a clear and consistent message to legislators uniting his or her constituency. Further, the author concludes that most people do not follow closely follow legislative issues and matters.

The growing nationwide organization of many interest groups along with the increased ability to exchange information is making advocacy to legislatures across the nation more active. Political party identification is a strong cohesive force for most legislators, and party identity and party caucuses are strong factors in determining how legislators respond to legislation. At times, attempting to gain a partisan advantage is a critical part of legislative decision making strategies. This can create difficulties, as legislators may find themselves conflicted between their caucus and their constituencies should their goals differ. The author presents this conflict as perhaps a legislator’s greatest challenge.

While it is difficult to identify exactly what it is that makes a legislator a good representative, the author notes there should be a positive connection between a legislator and the views of his or her constituency, an ability to deliberate legislation, and an ability to provide leadership, although this requires experience and resources as well as the proper leadership skills.

This is an excellent book for students of state legislatures in particular and of governmental decision making in general.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Book Review: "Thadeus Stevens"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: January 2005

My search through book stores for famous Pennsylvania Republicans worthy of biographies takes me back to the 19th century to a book published in 1899 on Thaddeus Stevens, who passed away in 1868. Sadly, there seems to have been few halfway decent Republicans since then, but I’ll keep searching.

What is intriguing about this book is we get to see how Thaddeus Stevens was viewed in the same century in which he lived. He is often criticized by modern historians for his tough stance against Southern states following the Civil War that allowed exploitation by carpetbaggers that may have delayed the reintegration of the South back into the Union. Still, his strong and unbending stance against slavery in an era where most other politicians were seeking compromises makes Thaddeus Stevens stand out as a man of conviction and principle.

Thaddeus was from Vermont and attended the University of Virginia until a college prank of an unspecified nature involving the death of a cow forced him to transfer to Dartmouth. After graduation, he sought to teach while studying law and accepted a job teaching in York. While in York, which was near the Mason-Dixon line, he observed the controversy of slaves who crossed from Maryland, a slave state, into Pennsylvania, a free state, and whether Pennsylvania was obligated to return the slaves to their masters. As the author explained, “his eyes were opened to the fact that liberty possessed real benefits and was not a mere abstraction.”

For reasons unknown, Thaddeus Stevens took the Bar examination in Maryland and became a Pennsylvania lawyer due to reciprocal acknowledgements of other states’ licenses. The book notes that some claim the York County Bar adopted more stringent requirements that were purposely designed to prevent Thaddeus from becoming an attorney, but the author doubts these stories. The Maryland Bar exam consisted of two or three oral questions and two bottles of wine for the examiners, which was raised during the examination to four bottles of wine and a card game that parted Thaddeus with nearly all the money he had on him, and Thaddeus Stevens became a lawyer.

Thaddeus Stevens set up his law practice in Gettysburg. What he had seen led him to become a forceful advocate for runaway slaves. Stevens gained note for his courtroom skills in winning such freedoms. In cases where the legal process failed, Stevens at times paid, out of his pocket, to buy the freedom of his slave client.

Stevens also defended over 50 people accused of murder, winning every case except one. He was later quoted as stating that all of his murder clients were guilty, except for the one that was convicted.

The author found little evidence that Thaddeus Stevens had political inclinations, other than serving on Town Council, in his early career. While defending the freedom of slaves energized Thaddeus Stevens and his legal career, it has hatred that finally energized Stevens into a political career. Stevens was rabidly opposed to Masonry and he was an early member of the Anti-Mason Party. He attended the 1831 National Convention of the Anti-Mason Party and, while the failure of the party to sustain itself taught Stevens and others the folly of creating a party based on one issue, Stevens caught the political bug. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House as a representative from Adams County in 1833.

As a state legislator, Stevens work hard, but unsuccessfully, to require that being a Mason was a good cause preemptory challenge in jury selection in court cases where one party was a Mason and the other party was not and in criminal court cases where a defendant was a Mason. He also sought to require a Judge who was a Mason to not hear court cases where a party in the case was also a Mason. While this bill was defeated, it lost by only 11 votes.

Stevens than headed a legislative committee that was appointed to investigate Masonry. The committee issued a report that was attacked for its political content as it strongly criticized the Governor, who was a Mason.

A legislative victory for Stevens was his successful efforts to increase appropriations to the Pennsylvania College located in his Gettysburg district. The book observes the bill was heading for defeat when Stevens rose and gave what the Harrisburg Telegraph newspaper described as a speech “never excelled…never equal in the hall” of the legislature.

The 1834 legislative sessions produced what Stevens is quoted as saying was his greatest achievement in his life. Education was available to the rich who could pay for it and to the poor, for whom the state would pay. Still, many still could not afford to pay to educate their children. Further, many poor families refused to send their children to school for fear of their children being labeled as poor. Stevens was a strong supporter of creating free public education regardless of income. Unfortunately, there was a voter backlash at this costly measure and several supporters of a free education were defeated for reelection. Stevens fought efforts to repeal free education, giving a speech that led State Rep. George Smith to proclaim that “the House was electrified” by the speech Stevens gave and that the “school system was saved from ignominious defeat.” (Many decades later, there would be another legislator noted for using words like ignominious, but that’s another story.)

The 1836 Constitutional Convention found Thaddeus Stevens as one of its members. Yet, due to his objection that the Constitution stated only white people could be citizens of Pennsylvania, Stevens refused to sign the document the convention adopted.

The 1838 legislative session saw a bitter internal dispute over electing its Speaker. The contentious nature of the arguments led Stevens to flee the legislative chamber through a window. Some legislators feared the state militia would be called to the House chamber and they appealed, without success, for federal military assistance. Stevens chose to refuse to recognize the assembled legislature and did not attend House sessions. The legislature declared that Stevens’s House seat was vacant and ordered a special election. Stevens won election back to his old seat.

Stevens was a skillful lawyer and dynamic legislator, but was not as fortunate in business. His business ventures found him $200,000 in debt, thus forcing him to forgo politics. Six years later, he had reduced his debt to $30,000, and he was lured back into politics.

In the unusual fate of politics, Stevens reemerged with his anti-Mason campaign in 1843 in an attempt to take away votes from the Whig Party to allow the Democrats to win election. By doing so, he sought to show the Whigs that they needed his support in future elections. The effort failed and the Whigs won the elections. Stevens was considered an extremist and ineffective politician. Still, the Whigs sought to bring into the Whig fold and nominated him as a Whig Party candidate for Congress. He won.

Congress disappointed Stevens. Stevens was a radical in a body and a political party that sought compromise. Stevens would refer to President James Buchanan as my constituent due to the fact that Buchanan’s Lancaster home was in Stevens’s House district. Yet, Stevens argued against compromising with Southern states on slavery and other issues of the day, proclaiming that if one “cannot be a freeman, let me cease to exist” and that he would rather see “this government crumble into a thousand atoms”.

Stevens hoped to be appointed to the Lincoln Cabinet and was frustrated when Simon Cameron was picked as Pennsylvania’s representative to the Lincoln Administration. Stevens did maintain strong political influence by chairing the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Stevens had a proposal that played an important role in the Civil War. He offered legislation that declared that none of the Southern cities remained as ports of entry. Although Lincoln was slow to agree to this idea, it had a key role in slowing the economies of the Southern states. A blockade by Northern states could have been challenged by foreign nations. Yet, a foreign nation that attempted to enter a port not recognized by a host country would be committing an act of war under international law.

Lincoln had a plan for reconstruction of Southern states that Andrew Johnson implemented. The plan was controversial and opposed by members of Congress such as Thaddeus Stevens. This was a leading cause of the successful effort of House to impeach President Johnson, although the Senate sustained Johnson’s Presidency. Rep. Stevens gave the first speech in favor of impeachment before the Senate. This major legislative failure for Stevens left him a broken man. Stevens died in 1868.

This is a lucid and interesting book about Thaddeus Stevens. Interesting enough, the book has been reprinted as recently as 1972 and copies are still available. People interested in 19th century Pennsylvania politics, or perhaps the legislative aspects of the Civil War and Reconstruction as well as Pennsylvania state legislative history, will find this a most useful book.

Book Review: "The Pennsylvanian"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: January 2005

Students of Pennsylvania politics would do well to learn about Joseph Grundy, the subject of the Ann Hawkes Hutton biography “The Pennsylvanian”. There was a time, now past, when “grudyism” was a common political term, and it was usually not meant as complimentary. Who was Joseph Grundy and what was Grundyism? The book provides the answers.

The author is an avowed fan of Joseph Grundy, whom she knew, and this book is a defense of one of Pennsylvania’s most controversial political figures. While the view is slanted, the book still allows much insight into the life of Joseph Grundy.

Joseph Grundy, nicknamed “Mr. Pennsylvania”, raised more campaign contributions for political candidates in the first half of the 20th century than any other person, according to this book. As a founder and leader of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association, Joseph Grundy had a major say in what person the Republican Party nominated for Governor and was a major influence in the election of at least one President, Warren Harding. Not one to remain totally behind the scenes, Joseph Grundy also served briefly as one of Pennsylvania’s United States Senators.

Business interests dominated Pennsylvania politics (and still do?) and Joseph Grundy was an early organizer of state manufacturers to seek to influence politics. They advocated policies that helped their industries and rewarded likeminded politicians with their endorsements and, most importantly, with their campaign contributions. In particular, Joseph Grundy favored high tariffs to protect Pennsylvania manufacturers from the influx of foreign competitors. If a candidate wanted the stream of campaign funds that Joseph Grundy could produce, that candidate had better be a supporters of high tariffs.

Joseph Grundy began lobbying in 1897. At that time, Pennsylvania manufactured more products than 25 other states combined. Grundy even testified before a Senate committee arguing that “backward states” should not have as much say on tariffs as Pennsylvanians who contributed vastly more towards federal revenues. Grundy not only hobnobbed with Presidents and members of Congress, he returned on a local level where he served as a Republican poll watcher in Bucks County, missing only one election in 64 years before he retired as a Republican committee member at age 86. Further, he served on the Bristol Council for over 30 years.

Lobbyist Grundy feared the Pennsylvania legislature was going overboard in the 1910s by enacting stronger child labor laws. He urged leaders of Pennsylvania’s manufacturing community to join together so their combined strength could battle the emerging labor movement. By his argument, laws such as child labor laws were slowing the profits and expansion of Pennsylvania manufacturers and thus causing them to flee to other states. (Note: PMA continues using Grundy’s same arguments to this very day against any type of labor legislation.) In joining manufactures into a political organization, Grundy became the first President of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association in 1910. For those interested, the first dues were set at 10 cent for each employee a manufacturer had, and PMA business was decided according to one vote per each dollar of dues paid.

PMA earned an early success in helping to kill legislation for the eight hour workday in 1911. (Most workers today will be surprised to learn there once was a time in history when eight hours was a maximum workday.) PMA was very active in seeing their views were included in legislation restricting employee lawsuits but allowing the undisputed payments of workers’ compensation to employees injured at work.

Over time, Grundyism arose as a term that came to represent the vigorous defense of big business. In past times, lobbyists could be on the legislative floor, and Joseph Grundy was often found roaming amongst Republican legislators advising them as they voted.. Democratic legislators and many voters became irritated with Joseph Grundy and his tactics. According to Democratic House Speaker Hiram Andrews, “all we had to do to win an upstate election was to use the name “Grundy”’. Attacks on Grundyism could be found through political campaigns into the 1960s.

Joe Grundy was also known as a political “king maker”. He would support, raise money, and get elected many Republican candidates he almost single handedly hand picked. His primary concerns were the candidates favor industry and support high tariffs. Grundy was unwilling to compromise on his positions. Further, Grundy did not believe in the need for public relations, which allowed Grundy to further become the object of public ridicule. Senator Boies Penrose remarked that Grundy “was the best fund raiser in the history of politics and the worst politician since Julius Caesar.”

Grundy and Penrose played major roles in getting Warren Harding, a little known first term U.S. Senator from Ohio who had the major asset of being a supporter of high tariffs, elected President. Pennsylvania had a Presidential candidate in Governor William Sproul and Harding hadn’t even thought about running for President. Grundy and Penrose convinced Harding to run, supported him financially, and then saw to it that the Pennsylvania delegates would support Sproul as a favorite son and then would be loyal to them and not Sproul. Harding emerged from a dark horse candidate to win the Presidency. Harding returned the favor to Grundy and his associates by, shorting after becoming President, calling Congress into special session to increase tariffs.

Grundy had his political battles within the Republican Party. After helping elect Gifford Pinchot as Governor, Gifford held no loyalty towards Grundy. Gifford adopted the ways of progressive Republicanism, a concept Grundy publicly stated was akin to Leninism and Trotskyism. Grundy also fought with the Philadelphia Republican machine led by the Vare brothers. After losing a U.S. Senate battle to the Vare brothers, Grundy felt vindicated three years later when Grundy was appointed to a vacancy in the U. S. Senate. The Vare brothers offered political peace with Grundy along with a compromise deal, yet Grundy continued his refusal to compromise. This was Grundy’s personal political downfall, as the Vare brothers then caused Grundy and his slate of candidates to be defeated.

We can better understand our present by knowing our roots. Joseph Grundy is one of those roots worth studying. While much of his work has been forgotten, the foundation he established remains. This book gives insights into that foundation.

Book Review: "Bringing Representation Home"

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny: January 2005

An effective state legislator is one who is aware of and reflects a district’s thinking and concerns and maintains good communications with organized groups representing that district, according to the author of “Bringing Representation Home”. While this may seem obvious to most legislative staff, the confirmation of this through research is useful. Besides, we know many Republican legislators believe they can act against their districts’ interests, and we know that can’t be effective representation. Michael A. Smith, the author of this book, followed 12 state legislators in search of what made them effective legislators and has produced this book as a result of his research.

While I don’t know if observing state legislators is akin to Jane Goodall’s field observations, state legislators certainly must make for an interesting sight. The book begins with discussing various theories and previous research regarding legislators. Richard Fenno has written about the “home style” representation of legislators who are aware of their need for support from their constituents. Malcolm Jewell has discussed how legislators maintain contact with their constituents and of their need to respond to constituents’ policy concerns and constituent services. Michael A. Smith concludes there is no universal definition of how to define representation, noting that even legislators are dynamically redefining how they consider their own styles of representation as circumstances change.

The author made numerous observations. Most groupings have fights for leadership with the winner, usually one with experience and ability, being able to beat his chest in support of his decisions and…sorry, that’s Jane Goodall. Legislators from lower or moderate income urban areas tend to be the strongest advocates for their districts and often take the lead in advancing causes that help their constituents. Legislators from wealthier districts who face tougher reelection elections tend to more passively wait for constituents to bring issues to them before advocating such issues. Legislators who wish to run for higher office tend to be outspoken advocates. Legislators with little or no ambition for higher office tend to try to come across as more level-headed.

While the author concludes there is no “grand theory” on describing how legislators behave, these observations and categorizations are useful. It is good to see academicians making field research into the behaviors of legislators. We can only hope research continues into this oft forgotten species.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Blog Ending with an Aristocrats Joke

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

A while back, an old college friend died. Her sister contacted me and asked if I would notify her college friends of her passing. While we all had not kept in contact much over the years, I obtained mailing addresses and emails of the people I knew that knew her and wrote them of her passing. In addition, I found a few addresses of people I hadn’t heard from in years and wrote them to say hello. Guess how many people responded back?

Not a one.

I don’t even know what that means as, obviously, no one has then contacted me to tell me why they did not care to respond. I guess we have all been away from each other too long. Maybe it wasn’t important enough to anyone to respond. It reminds of something I once said when I was in college: sometimes I feel like I’m a bit player in my own life. Others had the more dramatic lives, and my role seemed to be that of keeping things as steady as possible.

In reading through the information about the people I have known through my life, I have noted some interesting things. The radical feminist lesbian is now married and a corporate attorney. Her lesbian girlfriends are married with children. The woman who once told me she would never marry is, of course, married. Even years later, it still bothers me that she got me to lend money to a friend who then turned around and destroyed our relationship. It is not the money at all that hurts: it is the destroyed relationship that is sad. Fortunately, it seems most made their career goals. Those who wanted to become doctors are now doctors, and one I noticed was rated in a magazine as one of the top doctors in Philadelphia, and all those who wanted to become lawyers are now lawyers.

Maybe life is all meant as it is meant to be.

Except, of course, for those who have died.

Another thing I find fascination is the people from my elementary school have a group web site. They keep in far better touch with each other than do people from my high school and from my college. Is it a Southern hospitality thing that people in Kentucky are more apt to keep up with each other than are people from Connecticut or Pennsylvania? Or do we all miss the innocence of youth more than the innocence, or lack thereof, of puberty and young adulthood?

Enough about the past. The past seems to want to be forgotten, anyway.

Which is one thing I like about Los Angeles. Everyone is so friendly there. Granted, all that friendliness is fake. But better fake friendliness than real rudeness?

Of course, not everyone in southern California is joyful. Sometimes it is not the song but also the singer that matters. “Beautiful Boy”, John Lennon’s song for his son, is a moving song, especially coming from what would become a deceased father. “Beautiful Boy”, if ever sung by Michael Jackson, would then just become creepy.

Paul McCartney, whose musical writings are owned by Michael Jackson, will perform at the Super Bowl. Are we prepared for any wardrobe malfunctions? The Eagles are in the Super Bowl due to, again, my intern wearing her Donovan McNabb shirt during the Eagles game with the Falcons.

Anyone know the Aristocrats joke? I understand C-SPAN wishes to broadcast Bush and his Cabinet having a meeting. The show would be called “The Aristocrats.”

Monday, January 24, 2005

Ode to Johnny Carson and to the Largest Chicken in Pennsylvania

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

First, I am sad that Johnny Carson has died. We shared the same birth date. Which really confuses some people who then tell me I look good for my age. Of course, they then insult me my stating I look at least a good 10 years younger than Johnny Carson. No, we shared the same birth date: October 23. When I was born, most parents state they want their children to grow up and become President. Not mine. My parents wanted me to grow up and become like Johnny Carson. Which was really strange, because when I was born, Johnny Carson was a struggling actor.

I have disturbing news as a follow-up on one of my earlier postings. I wrote wondering why the cage for the Largest Chicken at the State Fair was empty. A week later, it was reported in the press that the chicken was missing. What makes me wonder: it took a week for someone to figure this out? Hopefully, they will discover a tunnel made by little claws leaving out of the Farm Show. Unfortunately, it appears someone stole the largest chicken in Pennsylvania. Which leads me to ask: how does someone steal a chicken? I guess maybe carrying around a chicken, it is possible to blend into a crowd of people and animals and baby carriages. Maybe they put the chicken in one of those baby carriages. Actually, I thought I saw some babies that looked like chickens.

This alert is issued to my readers in the general Pennsylvania area: If you see the largest chicken in the state running down the street, report this immediately to the proper authorities. Similarly, if you order fried chicken and you receive the largest fried chicken you’ve ever seen…

Did you hear about the new Airbus, which is the largest passenger airplane ever? They say, by the time you find your seat, it’s time to deplane.

I remember living in Philadelphia across from a parochial school with some name like Our Sisters of Perpetual Sorrow. I always wondered: who would send their daughter to such a school? Just the name makes me fear it is not a positive, encouraging environment. All I know is the darling angels of that school would smoke cigarettes behind my building. I guess there was no enough perpetual sorrow to keep them from smoking.

Johnny Carson was a smoker, and it is believd his habit contributed to his death. Too many people could have been with us longer is it wasn’t for this addictive habit. Thank you, Johnny, for the joy you brought to us. To readers who smoke, try and quit. May your sorrows never be perpetual.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Here's the Poop to the Story

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

I am turning into George Bush. I actually said to someone, upon her stating she is an only child, that “both my children are only an only child”, when I meant to say “both my parents were an only child”. At least I didn’t ask “so, how long have you been an only child?”

How about the Pistons and Magic basketball game being delayed three minutes because somone’s seeing eye dog pooped on the court? Is that even mentioned in the rules book?

Speaking of which, how about the bus used by the Dave Matthews Band that dumped 800 pounds of its human waste from a bridge, landing on 100 people in a sightseeing boat? And, yet, those people still have a better vacation experience than my most recent one. Now, does one then take one’s clothing and sell it on ebay? “You can be the proud owned of clothing that may be have stained by Dave Matthews’s poop?”…

Actual comment I received: “you look like that actor who played a cop who got shot in some movie…” Yeah, I get that confusion a lot.

Ironically, Sterling Hayden used to be down the road from me. He actually did play a cop who got shot in “The Godfather.” His mother helped sponsor my first play. Sadly, income tax problems prevented Sterling Hayden from accepting a role in “Jaws”. Spielberg even tried to film the movie in another country so he could get around his tax problems. Sadly, that might have been has most famous role. Fortunately, he will always be remembered for “Dr. Strangelove”, one of the greatest movies of all time. Incidentally, not only does Peter Sellers have three roles in that movie, but his heart problems prevented him from taking on a fourth role. And, no, I look nothing like Sterling Hayden. Although, since he’s deceased, I might like more like how he looks now.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I Shot My Brain, But I Didn't Shoot the Deputy

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

No sooner do I lament the decline of the American worker than news is reported that an employee shot himself with a nail gun through the roof of his mouth and into his brain, and he did not realize it until several days later. Now, what does THAT say about the awareness of the American worker?

Maureen Dowd reports that Carrie Fisher has not been asked out on a date in 12 million years, which I assume translates from Star Wars years into a long Earth time. Which tell us something: never tell Maureen Dowd anything personal. Now, I want to ask all those thousands of Star Trek nerds: you mean for the past 12 years you have all been drooling over Carrie Fisher, and NOT ONE of you ever thought to ask her out? Even Ally McBeal got the courage to ask out Han Solo.

The Eagles won this weekend, and there has been not one mention in the press of the reason why they won: my intern bought and wore her Donovan McNabb jersey. Doesn’t everyone know the outcome of football games is determined by superstitious acts of fans miles away from the game?

My essay, “Use Your Mortgage Loan Money to Pay for Internet Viagra” has been reprinted on the web site of Stop Spam Mail. My only question is: why? If they really are worried that people are going to use their mortgage loan money to pay for internet Viagra…wait, after learning that people can shoot nails into their head and not realize it, maybe it is a concern after all…

Another one of my great dating stories: A woman once called to cancel our date because, as she put it, this really cute guy she was always hoping would ask her out finally did. What hurt even more was that it was my birthday. So, if a woman cancels a date on your birthday because she accepted another date, is that a sign the relationship is in trouble?

I love how George Bush keeps getting excited over the prospect of NASA sending a spaceship to the moon as soon as the year 2015. Hasn’t anyone told him yet we already have sent men to the moon?

I also like how the White House congratulated Mahmoud Abbas on his election as the Palestinian President even before the polls closed. They stated they could tell he was going to win based on the exit polls. Following that logic, at what point do you think President Bush called to congratulate Senator Kerry on his exit polling victory?

The Chicken Crossed the Line Because The Chicken Couldn't Remember His Line

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

One of my most memorable memories from my writing days was when I wrote the play “Son of a Gun” and it was being performed in Connecticut. I was backstage with the director when we suddenly noticed something. There was an eery silence. We couldn’t hear anything emitting from the stage. We were momentarily puzzled. Was the play so bad that the audience had quietly snuck onto the stage and slaughtered all the actors? We were then amazed to see the lead actor backstage and not on stage, where he belonged. The lead actor could only stare ahead and ask “What’s my next line?”

As I recall, at that point, the director and I calmly assessed the situation and did what any rational person would do. We immediately fled town and never returned.

As to my script “The Sixth Dimension”, I often get asked: what are the six dimensions? There are the two dimensions of height and width, and the third dimension of depth. The fourth dimension is time. The fifth dimension is some type of emissions, often symbolized on charts as the differing colors. It could also be symbolized by different types of sound. The sixth dimension is best described as some type of extrasensory perception: it is something few humans seem to have but, as was recently demonstrated by the tsunami, animals have. It is something that raises a human’s level of consciousness. As is seen in “The Sixth Dimension”, there was an actual Cold War race between America and the Soviets to explore using this elevated consciousness for military advantage.

As for legal issues, I have discovered a difference between legislators and lawyers is lawyers know about court rulings, but they have no idea what the law actually says. That is because, to them, it is not what the law says but how the court interprets the law that concerns them. Therefore, I have decided, since no one actually reads the law, the law should be more direct. The law should read something like “Hey, Judge, here’s the compromise. Why should we bother figuring out what the law should state since you’re going to decide it anyway. Just give the trial lawyers 40%, the medical doctors 40%, and the insurers 20%.” Now, that would make life so much simpler for everyone.

As for consumer protection issues, I observe there is a fast food chicken place that has the chicken precooked and sitting in batches. All the employees have to do is take the order, grab the chicken from the correct batch, and serve it. I observed it was taking an average of 20 minutes for them to process orders. How complicated is this? These young employees are the future of America? No wonder some believe we are a couple of decades away from becoming a third world country. Look, if you are at a fast food restaurant, and it takes as long to serve the fast food as it would a fancy restaurant, you no longer are a fast food restaurant.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Truth About Me and Angelina Jolie

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

My dating disasters continue. Granted, there were early warning signals with the latest blind date. Someone once told me this early detection indicator of possible trouble:

She owns one cat: That is fine.
She owns two cats: Borderline trouble.
She owns three or more cats: It’s an obsession.

She warned me that she had cats and that they would be opening the door and entering every so often. As we were talking, cats kept opening her door and entering. Why she doesn’t believe in closing the door all the way, I’ll never know. I know this seems shallow, but a conversation constantly interrupted by cats has its difficulties.

At one point, the door opened and there I was, expecting another cat, and then I realized I was facing one really large cat. It was a guy. The guy apologized and quickly left. The woman quickly explained not to worry, as that was her roommate.

A woman with a male roommate is another one of those early warning signals I notice.

She explained not to worry, as the guy was gay. Interestingly, the woman had just moved into the house, and the gay guy roommate had moved with her. I was able to ascertain that they slept in the same bed. Which, of course, she explains, is fine, because he’s gay. Yet, as the evening progressed and a steady progression of cats and gay guys passed through the door, I have now developed another early detection indicator of possible trouble:

She owns one gay guy: That is fine.
She owns two gay guys: Borderline trouble.
She owns three or more gay guys: It’s an obsession.

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I observed a conversation the other day between a store patron and a store owner:

Patron: What do you mean you’re not open on Martin Luther King Day? You were open in Christmas.
Owner: You have your savior, I have mine.

It snowed today. How many people do you think innocently and accidentally began singing “I’m dreaming a white Martin…”

It bothered me when the weather forecaster predicted that there would be white snow falling today. What other color snow is there?

Angelina Jolie is rumored to have broken up the marriage between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. You know, Angelina Jolie and I used to live in the same building. Therefore, I wish to issue an official statement denying that Angelina Jolie did not break up my marriage. Please, spread this official statement around, as much as you can.

Friday, January 14, 2005

How Public Policy Decisions Are Made: A Case Study

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I recall hearing this story during my childhood. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it may well be and, anyway, it makes for a great story for people interested in the details of public policy.

I was living in a small town in Connecticut which officially registered six employees within the entire town. One of those six employees was the town drunk, who was kept on the town payroll to do whatever odds and ends needed to be done. One day, he was so drunk he drove the town’s truck into the river. This merited a serious dent in his employee record. The First Selectman was so furious that he fired the town drunk.

The impact of this action meant, as observed by the Federal government, that our small town had a sudden 17% jump in unemployment in one month. The town qualified for emergency Federal economic assistance.

The story goes that the First Selectman looked at all the paperwork required by the Federal government to respond to this obvious economic crisis, and decided it was easier to just rehire the town drunk.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Confessions of Phil Spector

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The police now claim that Phil Spector confessed to the murder of Lana Clarkson. What was further surprising was that Phil Spector also confessed to butchering The Beatles's "Let It Be" album.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Jesse Ventura is Sploranging

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I think it is time to invent a new word: splorange. Splorange means to run for a political office when everyone knows you really are running but the candidate has not declared he or she is a candidate. We should have a word for that.

The real reason why I want to invent the word "splorange" is so there will be a word that rhymes with "orange".

So, Hillary Clinton is sploranging. Newt Gingrich is sploranging, although some think he is not really going to run but is only hinting he may run to boost sales of his new book. So, Newt may be a false sploranger. Larry Sabato counts 44 Republican and 12 Democratic splorangers.

Jesse Ventura is a sploranger. When he runs for President, he will join this distinguished list of Minnesota residents who have run for President and failed (what? You think Jesse actually has a chance at actually being elected President?):

Walter Mondale. Ran for President once and lost.
Hubert Humphrey. Ran for President many times and lost.
Eugene McCarthy. Ran for President many, many times and lost.
Harold Stassen. Ran for President many, many, many times and lost.

Please cast your vote here for your favorite splorange. You need not register with blogspot in order to vote: you may vote anonymously.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Use Your Mortgage Loan Money to Pay for Internet Viagra

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

I have determined it is rude to not reply to emails. I have decided to reply to everyone who writes, including the spammers. I thought you might like to read some of today’s mail:

SPAM: You have made a mistake on your mortgage application. Fortunately, I have been able to approve your loan without this information. Please email me for your loan information.

LEON: Well, since my house is paid off, I guess the mistake I made on the application is I never applied. Yet, since my loan has been approved, please wire the money to my account in Nigeria. This money will be very helpful in getting me to move my late spouse’s gold account out of the country. I will repay you after I get the gold to England.

SPAM: Our penis enhancer is now available for only three monthly installments of $19.95.
LEON: Thank you, but I was not interested in your product. Do you have anything that can shrink my penis size? Frankly, it is getting difficult to find pants that fit. If you have anything that can help, please let me know.

SPAM: We can send discounted Viagra right to your doorstep.
LEON: I asked, and my doorstep frankly is not interested. Besides, I can make discounted Viagra on my own by melting flour into a sugar cube. (That is your recipe, isn’t it?) And, no, if I ever get an erection that lasts more than four hours, I will not seek medical attention. I will be boasting about it in this blog.

SPAM: A friend told me you need a fuller breast size.
LEON: I know you’re lying. I don’t have any friends. Of course, maybe that is because I am a flat chested male. I guess the pressures of today’s society demands men with enormous breasts, but I refuse to give into peer pressure.

SPAM: This is the city utility department. If you do not pay your bill by the end of the month, we will be forced to shut off your utilities.
LEON: Yeah, right, like you can trick people into thinking you have to pay for your utilities. Nice try, Mr. Con Artist.

SPAM: Invest in this stock, and we guarantee we will triple your investment within two months.
LEON: Well, this advertisement has to be real. I wish to invest everything I have. My bank account number is SPDFWSWRFR and my password is IBELIEVEEVERYTHINGGEORGEBUSHSAYS.

On a separate conversation, I observe how messages have changed. Now, if someone sneezes anything that may be considered a threat, you will be detained and investigated. I remember back in the 1980s when I received a phone call from someone threatening to shoot Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton. I decided, even though that was likely a prank call, perhaps his office might like to aware that there is this creep out there. I called his office, and they said they were too busy to listen, and they actually hung up on me! Ahh, the good old days, when people could threaten to shoot a public official and no one bothered about it.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Shall We Send Room Service to Collect Your Body?

Tchaikovsky Sounds Funny

I will never forget my second visit to Los Angeles. I had studied a travel guide and found an inexpensive hotel that claimed was a quality hotel. Upon registering at the hotel, I noticed the registration form asked for my “next of kin”. I had never seen that before on a hotel registration, yet, I thought perhaps someone had decided that was a good operating procedure, so I filled it out.

As I entered my room, I observed junkies in the hallway. I quickly realized this hotel was occupied primarily by addicts. The front desk was very understandable when I checked out. I realized why they were confused as to why I had luggage. It seems many guests don’t have luggage.

Moral of story: beware of hotels that ask for your next of kin.

Incidentally, I write the Los Angeles tourist agency that printed the brochure that had recommended this hotel. They wrote back that they do not have the staff to independently evaluate the information provided to them by the hotels. I wrote back and advised that someone just stroll into that hotel sometime and see for themselves whether they wish to continue recommending tourists to book rooms there. The next year, I noticed the hotel had been deleted from their guide.

No sense in scaring the addicts with tourists.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Kids Say the Brightest Things

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I love adult parties where the host adults have their little children present, as the children are apt to then say something that will embarrass their parents. These are the types of comment that often cause the parents to then lose their jobs and social services to remove the children from the homes. Really funny stuff.

At one party, a little boy carried his Ken doll around and showed it to everyone, pointing to the doll, and proclaiming to everyone, “My daddy.” Imagine how hard it was for everyone to stifle their laughter when later that evening the boy stood in the middle of the room, raised his Ken doll, and then bit the head off.

Another party saw a little girl get into an argument with a guest’s little boy. The host’s girl yelled in a loud voice, for all to hear, “men aren’t good for anything, not even sex.”

I wonder where she picked that up from?

How to Milk a Fair For All It Is Worth

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State fairs across the country are held during the summer or fall when the family can enjoy the outdoors while looking at animals and agricultural products. In Pennsylvania, the summer state fair is held every year in January. While people in most other states complain about the heat during their fairs, our fair usually has its attendance reduced due to blizzards. It snows so much during our state fair that there are people who believe the state fair causes the snow. No, the state fair does not cause the snow. The problem is we are the only state that thinks it is a fantastic idea to schedule our state fair right when it traditionally storms.

At part of the fair, minute samples of Pennsylvania food products are given out free of charge. In exchange for spending hundreds of dollars on hotels, parking, and souvenirs, farm show attendees will then stand in long lines to receive a sliver of something they are promised is a morsel of food. This makes attending the farm show worthwhile to hundreds of thousands of people.

One vendor of a morsel of food had a sign proclaiming that his food product was a food from God. If that is the case, then, after having sampled his food item, I have learned that God is an uncaring God who wishes only to punish us.

Someday someone can explain the psychology of this to me, yet I observe these lines always come to a crushing halt for the same reason over and over again: a fat woman has stopped the line. I don’t know why, but it almost always is a fat women who decides that nature dictates that she has the right 1.) to skip the line and go straight to the food, because on immediate inspection everyone will accept that there is nothing that will stand between a fat woman and her food, and 2.) once she has received her food, it is her right to stand there and eat it without any concern that the rest of the line has come to a halt until she is ready to move on and cut in front of the next food distribution point.

My other observation is people who bring babies in baby carriages to a farm show have a hidden desire to see their babies killed. With half a million people, along with cows and horses literally trampling the grounds of the state fair, people with baby carriages will throw their carriages in front of the flow of other people, horse parades, and cattle stampedes in order to cut in front of them. People, cows, and horses are all expected to see that there is a baby suddenly underfoot and are to then stop and let the baby carriage along with a family of sixteen cut ahead, regardless of how many thousands of people are pushing on your back to keep moving forward. What are these people thinking throwing their babies in front of streams of traffic? Would they ever dare try this on an expressway: We need to cross 14 lanes of traffic, let’s roll the baby carriage in front of traffic to stop all the vehicles.

One year, the large escalator at the farm show broke down. An amusing sight unfolded. People panicked. Faced with a moving object that has come to a stop, people did not know what to do. The thought of walking forward was slow to be processed. Children were crying. Women were screaming for help. Men were crying. I was yelling “we’re all going to die”, but that was only because I saw gangs of families with baby carriages entering the building.

Another thing I recommend while watching the state fair: if you’re entering a bull, and you weigh more than the bull, it might be time to think about going on a diet.

Should it bother me than when I looked into the cage of the Best Large Chicken, the cage was empty? Either someone from Kentucky Fried Chicken had made a purchase, or maybe the largest Pennsylvania chicken is actually so small you can’t see it with the naked eye.

This all reminds me of my family’s diary days. I even used to help my Great Uncle deliver fresh milk straight from his cows to customers’ doorsteps. Of course, this close knit service was a little too personal. I’d be all: “here’s fresh milk, straight from Bessie”, and customers would be “do you have milk from Bossie instead?”

Dating Rules, and Not the Good Kind of Rules

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I have achieved another low in my dating life. Past lows include:

• taking a woman to an expensive fancy French restaurant, the kind where supposedly the most hardened women will melt, and being told by my date during dinner that she just wants to be friends. I actually had someone after that suggest I join the priesthood. Apparently that is how some men get their calling: if they take a woman to this particular restaurant and nothing happens, this is taken by many that it is a calling into the priesthood. When I stated I wasn’t Catholic, it was recommended that I become Catholic in order to accept my fate as a priest.

• having a friend I care about facing deportation and possible death, and asking her out, and having her tell me she’d rather be deported than ever date me. When someone weighs options such as: deportation and death, versus possible dating and marriage to someone the woman could even scam so he doesn’t receive anything in return except that he cares for you, but you’d have the stigma of having dated him, and then choosing death over that option: that is a dating low.

Now for my latest low: A woman, who is a good friend, state she would rather meet men over the Internet than date me. She, of course, is amazed that the men she meets never look like themselves in their Internet photographs. She is the first recorded person in history to use her own photograph on the Internet. Despite the fact she has met really creepy men, including one she may need to obtain a restraining order against, she stills finds that better than dating me.

This woman explains that she has a rule against dating people she works with, and thus she can’t date me. Now, I have learned that when a woman says she has a rule against dating people, and I fit that category of people she won’t date, what she really is saying is she doesn’t want to date me and is trying to let me down gently. If someone really wanted to date someone, they wouldn’t create these rules. Yet, for women who create these rules, please try and not abuse the rules in front of me. If you tell me you don’t want to date men over age 40, don’t then start dating a series of 50 and 60 year old men. Now, once a woman makes such a rule, there is no arguing with her to change the rule. I tried using the logic of telling her that her rule of not dating anyone she works with shouldn’t dissuade her from dating me, as we don’t work together, but that logic just doesn’t work once a woman has made up her mind.

One of my all time favorite let downs was a woman who said she couldn’t date me because she only dates Jewish men. At first, I sort of understood this, if this was something that was that important to her. Yet, I have come to question that rule. I am Congregationalist. The Pennsylvania census figures states there are fewer than ten Congregationalists living in Pennsylvania. Let us thus figure out there are, at most, nine Congregationalists in Pennsylvania. Let us then take the high estimate and figure that, at most, there may be five Congregationalist men in Pennsylvania. Of those five Congregationalist men, let us figure that, most likely, there are only two men of marrying age in Pennsylvania. If you tell me you can’t date me because I am a Congregationalist, don’t then go out and find the only other available Congregationalist man in Pennsylvania and marry him.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Book Review: "The Impact of Judicial Selection Method on Supreme Court Ruling"

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This book presents arguments that the manner in which state Supreme Court Justices ascend to office, either by public election, Gubernatorial appointment, or legislatively selected, impacts their tendencies to decide cases in several legal areas. This conclusion differs from general Political Science thought that the manner in which Justices are picked for office makes little to no difference on how they ultimately decide cases.
The author concludes that groups with little political and/or economic power fare best with Supreme Court Justices who are appointed. This is important as members of these powerless groups require innovative state Supreme Court decisions to obtain remedies they have been unable to achieve from conservative leaning federal courts. Elected state Supreme Court Justices tend to make more traditional stances and shun the innovative decisions.

The book examines state Supreme Court decisions on similar issues in business law, criminal law, and family law in six states: two with elected Justices (Pennsylvania and West Virginia), two with Gubernatorial appointed Justices (New Jersey and Connecticut), and two states where legislatures select the Justices (Virginia and Rhode Island). 36 issues were chosen. This is a statistically signficiant sample size. Considering the multitude of decisions these courts make and the subjectiveness in comparing decisions where specific facts may vary, the argument can continue as to whether these conclusions may be broadly reached and whether these differences would occur in different times. Still, this is a remarkable study that combines case studies and backs these studies backed with statistical evidence. It is highly recommended to those wishing to learn more about Supreme Court decisions.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Book Review: "Heaven Talks Back"

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Some who remember when Jon Macks worked for the Pennsylvania legislature. Jon worked for Rep. Robert O’Donnell, and it is notable that Jon included Mr. O’Donnell amongst the group of people to whom this book is dedicated along with "to the inventor of Viagra" and to "Jodie Foster and our love child."

The book lets us know the change in direction Jon’s life has taken since leaving us. Once a promising rising young politician, Jon left government for an entirely different career in comedy. There was a time during redistricting when a new legislative district was reportedly created for Jon Macks to represent. Only Jon never ran for the seat. Instead, he left the arena of backroom deals and vicious competitiveness of Harrisburg for, well, the backroom deals and vicious competitiveness of Hollywood.

John’s book tells of his conversations with God (who is not to be confused for Joseph Loeper). Jon believes that God talks back in clear sentences, suitable for publishing. This book, it claims, are God’s words, as told to Jon Macks.

Before we decry either the irreverence of this book, and definitely before we divest all our assets in order to devoutly follow Jon’s every word, we do have to wonder if Jon really hears God correctly. Especially when he quotes God as stating that " My age and with My property, I’m a Republican."

The book does provide many interesting insights into the Supreme Being. God appears to feel He is being taken advantage of, as when He reportedly asks us "Just once I’d like to have someone make a sacrifice or a burnt offering without immediately following up with a demand. Surprise me this weekend."

God even provides commentary on some current issues. On the subject of cloning, Jon reports that God states "You want to play God? Be my guest, it’s all yours. Guaranteed, two weeks on the job, you quit from all the aggravation."

We also learn that God has problems similar to what we face when drafting legislation. As God explains to Jon, "I have not given you commandments, they are more in the form of general guidelines. Legal says they’re commandments because they contain the mandatory word "shall", but as a general rule, I try not to be a jerk about it." We may thus conclude that, as in legislation, there is judicial review, only God is sort of a bigtime Supreme Judicial authority.

God, we learn from Jon, provides many useful insights for our lives, including winning lottery numbers on page 125, which is a great promotion for our lottery system. Another useful bit of advice from God, according to Jon, is "never piss off a postal worker. Even I have no idea what sets them off." Unfortunately, it is distressing to learn from the book that God had a plan for each of us, yet as He explains, "the last time I merged files, I lost it".

We learn other insights, such as God does not bother with prayers during athletic competitions, admitting that He at most catches one game a year. On the other hand, God can be confusing in the book’s presentation, as when He announces "there is no such thing as sin. Or maybe there is. That’s for Me to know and you to find out." It also has to be disappointing when God is quoted as telling us that "My purpose in creating you was simply for amusement. So cut the crap about being in my image. Consider yourselves action figures."

The book contains a bonus interview with God as well as a forward from Jay Leno, for whom Jon authors jokes. Jay Leno complains about being unable to book God for the "Tonight Show", a move that guarantees a rating win that evening over Letterman and maybe even Ted Koppel. The interview contains several shocking revelations, such as God’s regret he didn’t include "Thou shalt not smoke" as a commandment.

Some may be disappointed with this book’s size as each thought from God takes only a few lines per page. While less wordy than, say the Bible, this book does contain many more yucks than many lengthier humor books. People who remember Jon will appreciate this book, as will anyone who likes to laugh. To think that had circumstances been different, instead of talking to God, Jon might have been spending time talking to Pennsylvania politicians.

Book Review: "Willie Brown"

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For people who enjoy reading about legislators in their spare time, and for those who don’t but who like biographies which relate the subject and the subject’s times, Willie Brown: A Biography by James Richardson is a book for both. Willie Brown, currently San Francisco’s flamboyant Mayor, is perhaps better known for his prior years as California’s House Speaker. A politician regarded as both a political reformer and a modern political boss, a sometime political progressive and sometime defender of corporate interests, a man of humble background who flaunts a flashy lifestyle, Willie Brown is a study in a man’s contrasts and complexities.

This biography neither glorifies nor lambastes its subject. The reader is allowed to thoroughly understand the gray areas between the good and evil which is the human nature of most public figures. We learn of Willie Brown and the events shaping his life and history. Among these were his battles with men who would be or would run for President (Governors Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown), the campaign support he received from members of the People’s Temple and their tragic mass suicide and murder of Willie Brown’s friend, Rep. Leo Ryan, the assassination of another associate of Willie Brown’s, Mayor George Moscone, and his time in the national political scene including chairing Jesse Jackson’s Presidential campaign.

Much of Willie Brown’s life evolved from being involved and reacting to the events of the day. For instance, when his name was signed, without his knowledge, to a letter of state legislators opposed to the Viet Nam War, Willie Brown decided, rather than repudiate the letter, to become a prominent activist against the Viet Nam War. In another incident, Willie Brown demonstrated it is possible to mold results where others fail to envision. When House Speaker Jesse Unruh deliberately presented Willie Brown with the chair of a meaningless committee which registered lobbyists, Willie Brown molded this position into a forum for lobbying reform and for attacking conflicts of interest among state officials. Instead of accepting legislative exile, Willie Brown gained notoriety.

We learn that Willie Brown sought being the center of attention from childhood and how this trait was internalized through lifelong quests for leadership. Willie Brown emerged from a life of gambling and nightlife into a life of politics and nightlife. Recruited by college friends John and Phillip Burton (both of whom destined to become members of Congress) to become active in college politics, Willie followed the Burton brothers into San Francisco’s progressive politics. This became complicated as a campus political rival, Jesse Unruh, continued this rivalry through their mutual legislative service.

Controversy followed Willie Brown’s legislative life. Branded as both a radical liberal and a conservative coalition builder, Willie Brown learned that power and personal feelings can change and that these changes can be used for advantage. Enemies can become friends and friends can become enemies. Eventually, Willie Brown would make peace and become an eventual heir to his longtime rival Jesse Unruh.

Readers learn how once Willie Brown became Speaker that he was adept at maintaining power. At times supported by intense partisan lines and other times supported by a bipartisan coalition against rivals from his own Democratic Party, Willie Brown is credited with being the first of a new breed of political leader. A member of the progressive movement which shunned the old style arm-twisting political boss, Speaker Willie Brown maintained his power by wielding his ability to attract and then dispense campaign contributions. By serving as a central campaign collection point and then dividing the money to his legislative supporters, legislators were distanced from the political complications of association with the contributors. Willie Brown favored this role, as it built his stature as the person for organizations to contact to get things done in the California House.

The author demonstrates that Willie Brown enjoyed political power games more for the sake of power than for setting policy. Willie Brown played the legislative power game very well for a long time. When he finally lost the power game, he exited by becoming a big city Mayor. This book presents a remarkable study of one of America’s most resilient politicians.

Book Review: "Against the Tide"

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"Against the Tide" by former State Rep. Harriet Keyserling is of interest to many of us if only because it is one of the few autobiographies published of recent state legislators which focuses on what it is like to serve as a state legislator. It will further interest students of politics who wish to learn the observations of a liberal Democratic elected official watching how the past three decades produced the emergence of the politics of the "New South."

Harriet Keyserling retired in 1992 from the South Carolina state legislature and has produced this insightful insider account of that legislative body. A legislator who was devoted to such as issues as increasing support for education and resisting dumping nuclear waste in her state, she offers several lessons from her experiences.

Among the points to ponder presented in this book are: a.) alliances can be formed around agenda items which transcend political partisanship, b.) be open and honest with the press and they will trust you and treat you better in the long run, c.) recognize that not all men nor all women think alike, even though men and women may approach some issues differently, and d.) all issues are women’s issues and women legislators should not feel compelled to limit themselves to matters others believe primarily concern women.

Entering politics during the 1970s relatively late in late when in her fifties, she offers reasons why she believes fewer women than men run for office (a situation which exists as well in Pennsylvania). She believes men tend to be more ambitious and more apt to enter politics, women tend to focus on their families, and there is resistance to women furthering their careers. This makes it harder to convince women to fight this resistance by running for office. She noted even the subtle psychological deterrence women face, such as the realization that all portraits the public sees in the South Carolina Capitol are of men.

Harriet Keyserling served during the legislative scandals when several state legislators were caught in an FBI sting operation. Many of these legislators were members of what was termed the Fat and Ugly Caucus. The author was a member of the Crazy Caucus which often fought the Fat and Ugly Caucus. She cautions that the Fat and Ugly Caucus created its own undoing by creating an atmosphere of susceptibility to lobbyists and undue influences. The Fat and Ugly Caucus would meet weekly for lunch with an invited lobbyist who would pay the tab. The FBI saw this group as prime candidates for a vote selling sting operation and thus resulted the scandal. It is the author’s opinion that while the group practiced bad government, they never acted illegally. Unfortunately for the legislators caught in the FBI web, the FBI thought otherwise.

The infighting described in this book between the Fat and Ugly Caucus and the Crazy Caucus will interest students of South Carolina politics. Her description of many South Carolina Governors as essentially cheerleaders for the Chamber of Commerce provides insights into interest groups and government. Legislative observers may appreciate learning how as much as one third to one half of South Carolina legislative sessions used to be spent engaging in filibusters.

Rep. Keyserling is proud of her efforts to create a dedicated sales tax for education and for creating South Carolina’s Sunny Day Fund. Towards the end of her career, South Carolina politics transcended into an arena of greater confrontation and tension. Disliking these changes, she left politics. Harriet Keyserling, though, has left us with her knowledge and insights in this book. Readers who want to know what a legislature in another state is like will appreciate her writings.

Book Review: "The Limits of Privacy"

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If one seeks a current book that is creating great controversy in the public policy field, "The Limits of Privacy" by Amitai Etzioni should fulfill your search. This book combines philosophical political discussions with actual issues and then draws its own conclusions. Whether one agrees or not with the author’s opinions, this book is definitely raising spirited debate. As the book includes such issues before legislatures as Megan’s Law, this book is useful to legislative researchers wishing to see the author’s commutarian perspective.

The author, Amitai Etzioni, is a leading proponent of the commutarian viewpoint. He is often found on most scholars’ lists as among the most influential modern Sociology and Public Policy theorists. Communitarians argue that policies should consider what is best for the community while simultaneously attempting to protect privacy rights. A balance needs to be established between these two goals as they often are in conflict. Amitai Etzioni agues that individual privacy rights should be protected except when such preservation presents clear threat to the community welfare.

The author claims in this book there are public safety and health concerns which are adversely affected by attempts to defend personal privacy rights. Etzioni argues that these concerns should be evaluated according to their moral, legal, and social aspects. In this book, the common good wins out over privacy issues in most of the issues presented, namely universal identification, Megan’s law, testing infants for HIV, and encryption for online privacy. Only on examining the issue of the privacy of medical records does the author side with the advocates of individual privacy versus the community welfare.

The prescription for policy analysis, as presented by the author, is that privacy concerns should be considered first with policies restricting such personal privacy being accomplished with as minimal intrusion as possible. Critics will argue that the author seems to readily advocate proceeding with such intrusions.

As for Megan’s Law, Etzioni approaches the issue by balancing the rights of convicted people who have served their sentence versus the community right to be aware that a convicted sex offender resides amongst them. He notes that sex offenders have higher than average recividy rates. He concludes that the risk that a sex offender may repeat a sex offense outweighs the right the released offender has to privacy. Critics would argue whether the author has weighed his personal opinion while discounting such factors as vigilantism and whether notification actually deters repeat offenses. Etzioni surprises others even further by advocating that released child sex offenders not be permitted to live in communities where children exist.

Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with each conclusion, most public policy readers should find this an insightful book with coherent yet controversial arguments. It will spark much rich debate.

Book Review: "Ghosts From the Nursery"

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If there is one book that could potentially change the direction of public policy regarding children’s issues, this could be it. The authors delve into recent research into brain development. They presents their findings in a clear, understandable form, which alone is one reason that makes this is a most useful book. This research is then associated with what this means to our society. A case study, regarding a 16 year old boy who murdered an 84 year old man, weaves its way through the book so readers can relate the data to a real person. The implications for public policy are potentially enormous.

This book examines what recent studies using PET and MRI scans and other methods allows us to better understand the human brain. Most of the crucial brain development occurs before a child reaches 3 years old. During these years, the human brain seems programmed to adapt to its environment. A lack of frontal lobe activity, which can be stimulated by parental involvement, can lead to lifelong depressed behavior. What a baby is exposed to, or not exposed to, determines how the brain forms and is apt to operate for the rest of life.
A child who does not find empathy by the age of three is likely to have difficulty showing empathy towards others. A person without consideration for others has a much greater tendency to drift towards anti-social behavior such as violent crime. A baby growing up in a withdrawn or hostile environment may begin life at a significant disadvantage.

Studies into violent behavior indicate a combination of factors, and not any one particular reason, serve as indicators of potential for such behavior. Genetic deficits are a potential indicator. Studies show that a pregnant mother’s use of alcohol and / or drugs can lead to genetic defects. Even after birth, a child’s DNA can be altered by exposure to great intense stress.

Lead exposure can create permanent brain damage. This can weaken the ability to learn and to control impulsive behavior. One study correlates lead exposure as the best predictor of school disciplinary problems.

These medical studies present serious policy questions. According to T. Berry Brazelton, the United States has become the industrialized nation that focuses the least on its children and families. Single teenage parent births have become much more common over the last 20 years and we are now into a second generation of such more common family situations. John DiIulio argues that increased numbers of children are being raised without proper guidance due to working parents or missing parents or stressed parents. More children have failed to accept social values. Violent juvenile crime has quadrupled over the last 25 years. Internalized violence has increased as well, as noted that the suicide rate of children age 10 to 14 has tripled over the past decade. One study notes that nearly all children who commit murder emerged from a chaotic or abusive family. (Note: This book was published in 1997, so dates should be referenced from then.)

The policy debate this creates will be enormous. "Liberals" may call for taking steps to see that baby brains are properly stimulated during the critical formative years. Outreach programs to pregnant women and families with babies should provide information on good parenting techniques. There should be high quality child care with programs that stimulate babies’ brain developments. Early education opportunities should reach the pre-school age. "Conservatives" may call for getting families to focus more of their energies on the children.

This is a fascinating book. It is one of the first books in this field aimed at the general public rather than professionals. Anyone interested in children should learn much from this book.

Book Review: "Straight from the Heart"

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When Ann Richards attended a Democratic event in Harrisburg, it was impressive to see such an outspoken woman state her opinions (which, I will argue, were always right on target). Yet, I had to slightly cringe, but not because of her speech. It was due to the music. Having read Ann Richard’s book "Straight From the Heart", I knew that her song was "Deep in the Heart of the Texas" and never "Yellow Rose of Texas". I suspect as Ann Richards entered the room and the band struck up "Yellow Rose of Texas", a part of her was probably thinking "what, hasn’t everyone read my book yet?"

This autobiography of Ann Richards allows us to follow the political transformation of Texas and of our nation in the eyes of someone who participated in the changes. She grew up amidst segregation and notes how racial prejudice is fostered upon ignorance and unfamiliarity.

Ann Richard’s book traces the evolution of politics and society. Having volunteered in Ella Grasso’s campaign, this reviewer recalls she was the first woman ever elected Governor in this country whose husband wasn’t a Governor before her. It is assuring that voters today no longer see women statewide candidates as a novelty to be greeted with suspicion. Yet, as Ann Richards notes, men continue to dominate the proportion of elected offices.

It was in college that one class changed the direction of Ann Richards’s life: Speech class. It would mold the woman who decades later would utter the famous line before the Democratic National Convention that "Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels."

Readers follow Ann Richards through her days with the Young Democrats in alliance with Lyndon Johnson Democrats fighting conservative Democrats led by Allan Shivers. We learn how she led the North Dallas Democratic Women and how the FBI infiltrated its section which advocated integration. We feel the sadness of what it was like to be at the luncheon which John F. Kennedy was headed towards, but never made, on the day of his assassination.

Ann Richards shows readers her personal side and struggles. She describes what it is like being epileptic. What it is like to fight alcoholism. What is like to be a woman running for office in Texas.

This is a great book from the former Governor of Texas and, as she promises, a frequent upcoming visitor to Pennsylvania. And spread the word, next time: "Deep in the Heart of Texas".

Book Review: "888 Reasons to Hate Republicans"

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At last, there is a book that reveals the honest truth about our political system. Barbara Lagowski and Rick Mumma have produced a simply wonderfully insightful book entitled “888 Reasons to Hate Republicans” with the subtitle “An A to Z Guide to Everything Loathsome About the Party of the Arrogant Rich.”

The book provides readers with great wisdom. Some of its humor is hilariously thoughtful, such as the observation that Republicans “would rather outfit the family in acid rain-proof L.L. Bean “barn coats” than place intrusive regulations on the smokestacks of America.” Other observations are not quite up to snuff. Still, this is a fun joke book that would make a great gift for Democratic friends or to irritate your favorite Republicans.

A major criticism is the research is horribly sloppy. Authors who limit themselves to only 888 reasons to hate Republicans have obviously not spent the proper amount of time delving into their subject. In this respect, this book turns out to be a major disappointment.

This book has major limitations preventing me to fully recommend it. Failing to do more with such an obvious topic places it primarily in the “gag gift” category.

Book Review: "From Nuclear Strategy to a World Without War"

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Several years ago, there was a movie where our nuclear launch computers are programmed to play a "game" of nuclear warfare. While audiences sat nervously awaiting to see if nuclear weapons would be launched, I sat assured that, should the movie follow reality, the predictable end would be that the computer would determine there is no conceivable manner to win this "game" and the computer would decline to play.
Computers can be programmed to be logical and rational. Humans are not necessarily so. People such as Hitler can lead their nations into irrational behavior. Further, in the face of defeat, a logical response may be to turn to desperate actions which otherwise would have been unthinkable.

This sobering book, authored by the former head of the State Department Intelligence during the Kennedy Administration, warns against the delusion that "mutually assured destruction" continues preventing nuclear warfare. Indeed, at the rate the world is progressing, nuclear warfare is likely. Can we comfortably look at crises in India-Pakistan, the Middle East, Iran-Iraq, and the two Koreas and conclude that nuclear war is impossible? Further, should the current government in Russia fall, can we be certain its replacement will not be one that rekindles some Cold War aspects?

Roger Hilsman’s book is fascinating in two aspects. It first serves as a detailed yet readable history of nuclear weapons policies. It then presents a thoughtful yet controversial proposal on what the author argues will prevent nuclear warfare.

These pages contain many interesting points. During the debate to drop nuclear weapons on Japan, Gen. George Marshall estimated an invasion of Japan would cost 40,000 American casualties. Gen. Hap Arnold and Admiral William Leahy argued Japan could be defeated without an invasion. Allied submarines and battle casualties were devastating the Japanese military. Yet, the estimates from others that one million American lives would otherwise be lost in an invasion of Japan led President Truman to drop atomic bombs on Japan.

During the 1950s, Admiral Arthur Radford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined by Vice President Nixon and others, recommended dropping nuclear bombs in Viet Nam. (The only Eisenhower Administration official to actively oppose this proposal was Army Chief of Staff, and Pennsylvanian, Gen. Matthew Ridgeway. ) Ironically, it would be Senator Lyndon Johnson and other Congressional leaders who would convince Eisenhower not to become so involved in Viet Nam.

The Cuban Missile Crisis may have been caused by Soviet realization that the Americans had discovered they were ahead in nuclear arms production in spite of their prior belief they were behind. Placing nuclear weapons in Cuba was Khruschev’s attempt at regaining nuclear strength. President Kennedy wisely negotiated by considering consequences, recognizing divisions within the Soviet government, and using flexibility in accepting reasonable Soviet reactions and ignoring their inflammatory threats. Hilsman notes that a peaceful ending is not certain in all future similar crises.

In more recent times, there are people such as President Bush and Soviet Chief of General Staff Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov who have stated it is possible to win a nuclear war. Imbalances exist when opposing sides believe each can win a devastating war. (Footnote: Refer to World War I.) Chairman Mao even boasted China could sustain 300 million casualties in nuclear warfare and still have 300 million people remaining.

Nuclear war can be started by nations or by terrorists, Hilsman warns. Leaders can miscalculate, be insane, or lose control of situations. During war, all three such possibilities can easily occur.

Hilsman’s conclusion, that a world governance replacing nationalistic desires (which causes most wars) and which is capable of policing rogue nuclear threats is the only solution, is bound to provoke much dissension. Indeed, even Hilsman realizes such an eventuality will be impossible for some time. National pride is too strong for nations to give power to a higher governmental authority. Still, the thought that this is the only way to prevent a nuclear catastrophe, if Hilsman is correct, should create concern. If the world can recognize the dangers and begin moving in this direction (which is possible as evidenced by Europe’s acceptance of the European Community), there is hope.

Book Review: "A Quest for Life"

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Ian McHarg, the Chester County resident notable as an environmental planner, has written an autobiography that informs while successfully capturing his bold character. Ian McHarg minces no words. He recalls the incident when he gave public testimony claiming that highway engineers seem to “have a deep insecurity as to their masculinity which can only be appeased by mutilating mute nature.” Then there was the time he criticized a Army Corps of Engineers project of dredging the Delaware River which ruined a separate Corps project aimed at flood control by suggesting those involved should consider committing hara-kiri. There was also the time, when giving a speech at an Interior Department conference, he turned to Interior Secretary Rogers Morton and called him a “bagman for the Republican Party and now, here you are, the custodian of the national environment.”

This autobiography informs us how a person of such outspokenness has emerged and gained respect. His growing up outside Glasgow, Scotland at the edge where homes met nature made him realize, at an early age, the advantages of an environment outside of blocks of treeless tenement homes. His experiences as a British army World War II combat veteran may have intensified his boldness. Possessing neither an undergraduate degree nor a high school diploma, he entered Harvard’s graduate program in Landscape Architecture by simply telegraphing them and requesting that arrangements be made for his arrival and entrance into their school. As a student, he repaid his department by becoming Chairman of the Student Council and pushing through a resolution of no confidence in his department. Upset that the Landscape Architecture faculty focused on designing gardens for the wealthy, Ian McHarg became an advocate that landscape architecture is for all. Further, he would argue, we all should respect nature.

People familiar with projects where Ian McHarg had a hand will appreciate learning more about his eventful life. Among the projects where Ian McHarg was involved include Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the creation of 110 more acres through landfill in Manhattan, the first Earth Day (then Earth Week), a park at the University of Pennsylvania, and his milestone book “Design with Nature”. Many credit “Design with Nature” as a major force in creating legislation requiring ecological considerations when planning construction. People unfamiliar with his work may still appreciate his life struggles: such as combat in Word War II, fighting tuberculosis four decades ago when survival rates were much lower, and founding the Landscape Architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania with no faculty, no office, and no students. A fascinating person has written an excellent book.

Book Review: "Without Reservation"

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Do you like books with gambling, political intrigue, and courtroom drama involving obscure documents that are centuries old? If so, you should like "Without Reservation" by Jeff Benedict. The book is more explosive because it is non-fiction.

"Without Reservation" purports that a group of people with, at best, faint claims to Native American heritage opened the Foxwoods Casino. Foxwoods is described as the largest casino in this hemisphere and the second largest in the world. Fans of casinos will be fascinated to learn how this popular casino came to be. Students of legislative politics will learn how unintended consequences of bill drafting and failure to understand (indeed, misunderstanding) the consequences of what legislation can do may lead to unintended results of massive proportions. It will not surprise me to see this book eventually used in Political Science studies for its description of legislative actions gone wrong.

In part, this book describes how a youthful, underpaid and overmatched attorney undergoes an underdog story of eventual success in a momentous lawsuit unsurpassed by John Grisham novels. Tom Tureen, a fresh out of law school, $9,000 a year attorney for Native American rights advocacy pays $20 to file a federal court case alleging that Native American lands in the East Coast were sold in violation of a law which became valid in 1790 yet was long neglected. Such land included two thirds of Maine. The Maine court action gains a $81.5 million settlement and 300,000 acres of land for two of the poorest Native American tribes in the country.

Elsewhere, this book has a stunning second story: how government errors led to people who never lived in a tribe and who have tenuous relations to Native American heritage wind up with a casino. Further, the book alleges, the casino operators are descendants of the wrong tribe the casino is intended to benefit. This story begins with the 204 acre Western Pequot Reserve in Ledyard, Connecticut.

The federal government, concerned only with federally supervised tribes in the Western United States, kept no records of tribes in the East Coast states. The only existing list was never published or even photocopied. Even Tom Tureen, in his search for East Coast tribes, at first pays scant attention to the small reservation in Ledyard.

In 1973, the last resident of the Western Pequot Reserve, Elizabeth George, died. The book alleges that Mrs. George was not of Pequot descent. Loose regulations permitted indigent people to live in reservations. Mrs. George claimed ancestry to the Narragansett Indians (who ironically killed most of the Pequots during the Revolutionary War). The story of the Western Pequot Reserve would likely end here, except for Tom Tureen's lawsuit. As the lawsuit sought to find other East Coast tribes, their search led them to Skip Hayward, Elizabeth George's grandson.

Skip Hayward, self-described as Caucasian prior to 1974, benefited from Connecticut legislation eliminating the requirements that anyone claiming Native American heritage had to be at least 1/8 Native American. That requirement lifted, Skip Hayward sued to regain 800 acres surrounding the Ledyard reservation.

The book describes the Connecticut legislature as wanting the lawsuit to go away. Tom Tureen offered to settle the suit if the state government agreed to yield any authority over any businesses established on the reservation. The idea was to open the reservation to gambling, yet the legislature was blind to this reality. Tom Tureen explains "we never had to lie to anyone or mislead anybody. We were never questioned about these other aspects."

Federal recognition of the Pequot reservation was the next requirement. Sen. Lowell Weicker of Connecticut agreed to introduce a bill granting such recognition. Tom Tureen describes that he and his associates spent less than half an hour explaining the bill to Sen. Weicker. The committee chair, Sen. William Cohen from Maine, placed less emphasis on a bill that would grant $900,000 to Connecticut Pequots in the face of an $81 million settlement in his own state. The book describes members of Congress providing testimony that displayed their lack of knowledge about what the bill actually did. One error few seemed to have realized is the bill was drafted seeking 2,000 acres rather than 800 acres others had thought was sought.

Thus, gambling was begun in modern Connecticut. At first, the Pequot reservation offered bingo. Casino gambling was initially discounted by most as Connecticut law did not permit casinos. The law states tribes may offer casinos only in states that permit "games of chance". Yet, the Connecticut legislature approved a law allowing charitable and nonprofit organizations to have at most twice a year fund raising events which offer poker, blackjack, and card games for noncash prizes. When this was done, Connecticut inadvertently created the loophole for a Pequot casino. The courts ruled Connecticut does "allow "games of chance". Foxwoods Casino on the Pequot reservation was born.

Lowell Weicker, who then had become Connecticut's Governor, fought against allowing introducing slot machines in Foxwoods. The opposition disappeared when the state government was cut into the deal: one quarter of Foxwood's earnings go to the state. The book describes the legislature giving its approval following a meeting between the House Speaker, Senate President, and tribal lobbyist when a problem with a $13 million gap in the annual budget proposal was eliminated with a one time $13 million payment from the Pequot tribe.

Foxwoods is today one of the world's most successful casinos. It operates in a state with no previous history in regulating casinos. Skip Hayward, incidentally, has been deposed as the casino leader. Foxwoods now operates largely with Malaysian investments. The book concludes by arguing the government should withdraw recognition of the Pequot's tribal Foxwoods casino. Whether readers agree or not, most should find this book fascinating and perhaps serve as a warning: be careful what is in that legislation.

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