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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Just do it

Let me see if I have this straight: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is wheeling, dealing, twisting, turning and convulsing (and probably crying) in an effort to get support from his own party members to pass a debt-ceiling-raising, spending-cutting bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., already has said has no chance of passing in his chamber.

In other words, Boehner has been spending most of this week trying to strike a deal to win approval for a bill that will NEVER BECOME LAW.

And members of Congress wonder why their work gets such low approval ratings from the public. Sheesh!

Here's an alternate suggestion, Mr. Speaker: Rid your bill of all the proposed spending cuts that no one can agree on anyway, and bring to the House floor a bill that will do nothing other than raise the nation's debt ceiling. You'll have no trouble getting the support of all the Democrats in the House, along with a good number of moderate Republicans, and the thing will pass with ease. The Senate then will pass it too, President Obama will sign it, and our nation will avoid the embarrassment of its first-ever debt default.

Yes, the spending cuts that Republicans want — but can't seem to agree on — are important. And, in some form, they need to be approved and enacted. But that will have to wait. For the time being, at this moment, raising the debt ceiling is more important. And it cannot be dragged out beyond Tuesday's deadline by elected officials who are more interested in scoring political points and getting their faces on TV than they are in doing what's best for the country.

You were elected to do a job. Mr. Speaker. Go do it. Now.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bad food, bad film, bad lifestyle

* McDonald's has announced that apple slices will be added to its Happy Meals ... as if a few slivers of fruit will offset all the fat and cholesterol in the meals' greasy burgers and fries. This is roughly the equivalent of believing it's OK to eat half-a-dozen Dunkin' Donuts as long as you wash them down with a glass of low-fat milk.

* "The Undefeated," the documentary film about Sarah Palin, has flopped at the box office, so it's going to be released on pay-per-view TV, according to Reuters. Got news for you, Sarah: If people weren't willing to pay to watch this thing in theaters, they won't pay to watch it in their living rooms, either. Perhaps Palin's 15 minutes of fame (14 minutes more than she deserved) are finally over.

* Need proof that the death of British singer/trainwreck Amy Winehouse came as no surprise to anyone? Consider this: Whenever the death of a well-known person is seen as imminent, or at least likely, news wire services, like The Associated Press, will have an obituary prewritten and ready to go so only limited reporting and writing will be needed when the death occurs. Winehouse, all of 27 years old, was one of the celebrities for whom the AP had a prewritten obit. Pretty sad, but obviously pretty necessary.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guilty of public embarrassment

As I watched the freak-show circus outside the Orlando, Fla., courthouse where Casey Anthony was on trial for killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, I couldn't help but wonder: Don't any of these playing-to-the-cameras protesters have jobs?

In the case of the woman pictured here, who was protesting the verdict after the trial ended, I guess the answer is: "I couldn't find a job because all the positions I applied for required the ability to spell basic English words."

Associated Press photo by Phelan M. Ebenhack


Friday, July 8, 2011

Playing politics with our economy

Cable TV financial channel CNBC had Rep. Michele "I Hate Everything About the Government (Except My Paycheck)" Bachmann on this morning after the U.S. Department of Labor reported that only 18,000 new jobs were added in June and that the nation's unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent.

Asked for her reaction to the jobs report, the first words out of the White House wannabe's mouth were: "Well, this is terrible news for President Obama."

Really, Michele? That's the most important thing about the job situation — what it means for the president?

Sorry, Congresswoman, but the most important thing about the job situation is what it means for the country and for the millions of people who are out of work and struggling to pay their bills. It would behoove you to understand that if you hope to someday be the leader of this land. (And you also might want to work on not smirking on national TV about bad economic news.)

But as long as we're playing politics, I'd remind you that the blame for the nation's economic problems doesn't start and stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It extends down the road to the Capitol building, where you and your fellow members of the Republican majority in the House have done nothing to help get us out of this mess.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Egg on HLN's face

HLN — once the respectable Headline News arm of CNN, but lately just a dumping ground for tabloid trash — just proclaimed, after learning Casey Anthony had been acquitted of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, that "her lies worked."

Having invested so much time, effort and money into covering this case since Caylee was found dead in 2008, and having made the inexcusable mistake of giving Nancy Grace her own show and letting Grace make the crucfixion of Casey Anthony her personal crusade for three years, HLN just couldn't bring itself to believe that Casey — derisively and condescendingly nicknamed "Tot Mom" by the network — might actually not have killed her daughter.

The bottom line is that HLN jumped to conclusions about what it wanted to be the facts of the case rather than spending any real time looking into what the facts of the case actually were. And now, with a jury of 12 people having decided that the largely circumstantial evidence did not support the notion that Casey Anthony killed little Caylee, the network clearly would rather protest the verdict than accept it.

Now I can't say with any certainty that the jury was right and that Casey Anthony truly is innocent. But I can say with certainty that our criminal justice system is well-designed and that it generally works. And I'm willing to accept that it worked in this case.

Perhaps HLN should, too.