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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tea-ing it up

Need proof that the Tea Party people don't understand their own movement? Consider these two sentences from a New York Times article published this morning:

When Tom Grimes lost his job as a financial consultant 15 months ago, he called his congressman, a Democrat, for help getting government health care. Then he found a new full-time occupation: Tea Party activist.

He sought government aid AND he's a Tea Party activist? Huh? I thought the Tea Party wants the government out of people's lives, especially when it comes to health care.

But then again, the Tea Party movement is populated largely by retirees who are willingly on Medicare, the granddaddy of all government health care programs. So I don't what to make of these people.

I guess their unspoken motto is "Do as we say, not as we do."


The naked truth

A short item in The New York Times this morning mentioned that "sexting" - in which teenagers exchange sexually explicit pictures of themselves via cell phone - is a felony in some states, punishable by years in prison and designation as a sex offender.

Now I'm not condoning "sexting," but I find it ridiculous that the practice has been criminalized.

Teenage boys and teenage girls always have been interested in each other's bodies and always have done whatever they can to see a member of the opposite sex naked. But now, for the first time, the method they use to see each other in the buff can get them in serious trouble. Yikes!

In my teen years (1976-82), the only practical way to see a fellow teenager naked was to be in the same room with the person and be lucky enough to have that person shed some clothing. And as long as the participants were both under 18 or both over 18, and no force was exerted to compel the nudity, there generally was no threat of prosecution.

Today, however, simply because cell phones (and computers and digital cameras) have provided a new way to experience such viewing pleasures, the exact same consensual act is prosecutable. In other words, teens are being punished not for showing their private parts to each other, but for the technology they use to accomplish the task.

It's not the fault of teenagers that technological advancements have made an age-old rite of passage easier to accomplish. And they shouldn't have to fear a criminal record because of it.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

REAL fairness and balance

I turned on CNN at 10 a.m. today to catch the morning's top news stories.

The network spent the first five minutes of the hour recapping Sarah Palin's appearance in Arizona on Friday on behalf of Republican Sen. John McCain's re-election campaign.

The second five-minute segment was devoted to a story about the Tea Party movement's all-out effort to unseat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.

Which got me thinking: Can you imagine Fox News, which laughingly claims to be "fair and balanced," devoting the first 10 minutes of an hour to stories about Democrats trying to get elected and trying to oust Republican incumbents? A blizzard at the equator is more likely.

Thank you, CNN, for being one of the few remaining broadcast outlets that covers both sides of the nation's political landscape.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The tide is turning

The more people learn about the nation's new health care reform the law, the more they seem to like it.

Check out the results of the latest USA Today/Gallup poll on the subject.


The markets don't lie

Opponents to the nation's new health care reform law argue it will devastate the fragile U.S. economy.

They say it will hurt corporate America's bottom line by forcing employers to insure everyone and that it will bring hiring to a standstill because companies won't want to take on the financial burden that new employees will bring.

So it's safe to assume Wall Street investors have been dumping stocks since the bill was approved on Sunday, as they always do when the sense the economy is at risk.

Let's check the numbers ...

Dow Jones industrial average on Monday: Up 42 points.
Dow Jones industrial average on Tuesday: Up 102 points.

So much for that argument.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Out of season

Does anyone else find it ironic that Kingston High School's annual Winter Carnival was held yesterday, the first day of spring?

Well, I guess it makes sense. After all, if it had been scheduled for a Saturday during the winter, it probably would have been postponed numerous times because of snow.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Everybody out of the pool

I've been following the NCAA men's basketball tournament for close to 30 years, and I've been in bracket-based office pools for about the last 15, and I've never, ever seen a tournament like the one going on right now.

I've lost track of the number of stunning upsets that have come to pass in the last three days; teams from the mighty Big East conference appear to have forgotten how to play the game; and the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, Kansas, was bounced today by Northern Iowa. (I didn't even know before last week that there was a school called Northern Iowa.)

Villanova, a No. 3 seed, also went down today, meaning the two teams I picked to reach the national championship game, 'Nova and Kansas, are gone, and I have no chance of winning the pool I'm in. So I tore up my bracket sheet about an hour ago and threw it in the trash.

I can take solace in the fact that the team I've been rooting for since the mid-1980s, Syracuse, remains alive in the tournament. But they're from the Big East and are playing a lower-seeded team on Sunday, so they probably will be out of this thing soon.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Told ya so

In March 2008, upon returning from a family trip to Washington, D.C., I wrote the following in this space:

For all the talk about post-9/11 security, Washington is surprisingly unprotected. There are metal detectors and armed guards at places like the Capitol and the White House, of course, and numerous government buildings now are surrounded by concrete barriers (so that vehicles can’t get close enough to do any damage), but there is no visible security at the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, in the National Cathedral or anywhere in the subway system, to name just a few vulnerable spots.

Yesterday, a man opened fire at the entrance to the Metro subway station at the Pentagon, wounding, ironically, two police officers.

That there were at least a couple of officers in the area is encouraging. (I never saw a cop at any Metro station during our week in D.C.) But that an unstable man was able to get a loaded gun onto the grounds of the Pentagon - where the Metro station in yesterday's incident is located - and start shooting at will is unforgivable.


Don't call me, Al

The Rev. Al Sharpton is giving Gov. David Paterson advice about whether to stay in office amid ethics charges and possible criminal allegations? That's rich!

Reverend Al - the man who lied about Tawana Brawley to authorities, reporters and anyone else who was stupid enough to listen.

Reverend Al - who has been sued countless times for failing to pay his bills.

Reverend Al - who stood trial in 1990 for tax fraud and stealing from a charity.

Reverend Al - who, according to federal authorities, neglected to pay more than $1.5 million in taxes from the late 1990s to 2008.

Paterson has enough problems as it is. He doesn't need "taking advice from a liar and crook" added to the list.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Baby's gonna drive my car

My son Marc turns 16 today.