Archive for June, 2009

Keyster mans up: admits to a mistake

June 27, 2009

In yesterday’s commentary on the U.S. House of Representatives passing a truly hideous “climate” bill, the Keyster made an error. Yes, if this bill eventually passes the Senate and become law, it will inflict serious, serious financial pain on every American. Yes it was passed unread… that’s right, 219 duly elected Congressmen and women voted to further destroy our economy without knowing what they were voting on. And yes, this is simply the largest tax increase in U.S. history, disguised as an environmental bill.

But the Keyster printed a mistake in yesterday’s story. So in the spirit of always delivering 100% accuracy, we offer our first correction. The bill has 1,200 pages, not 1,100. The Keyster regrets this error.

Congressional thought process: “Let’s see. The economy’s in the dumps, families are hurting. I know… let’s tax everything to make it better!”

June 26, 2009

While the the U.S. media is fixated on the death of a famous child molester, your U.S. House of Representatives is about to push through a bill that will tax, well, just about everything. Gas, food, clothing, cars, shelter, cow farts, anything that uses energy or emits carbon anywhere in its production or delivery will be impacted. In other words, if this turkey becomes law, the price of everything is going to go up.

This “save the world by destroying it” bill runs 1,100 pages and even its proponents don’t know what’s included. It was slapped together by dozens of wacky environmental groups and Congressional staffers fresh out of college. A better name for this monstrosity is the Lifestyle Reduction Act of 2009.

This baby will send your money into a black hole of government bureaucracy and “carbon offsets” that will make a few people (hello Al Gore) fabulously wealthy… and the rest of us poorer. Estimates for the annual impact not too far down the road run as high as $5,000 per family. Nobody really knows. By taking your money to fix a problem (global warming) that doesn’t exist, Dear Leader will succeed in taking over more of your life.

In praise of local business

June 25, 2009

The Keyster is a bit schizo on the subject of franchise operations/national stores versus local businesses. On the one hand, you generally know exactly what you’re getting with the big boys such as Starbucks or Target. As spot-on economist Dr. Thomas Sowell says: brands are a way of economizing knowledge.

But on the other hand, many of our favorite haunts are one-off, mom-and-poppers through and through. Okay, I admit that this is being written in a Barnes & Noble while repairs are being performed on the aging vehicle’s sound system at Best Buy. Tonight, however, we are set for our first-ever meal at the one-and-only Mozaic, where chef Dylan Elhajoui’s fusion cooking has dazzled Southwest Florida.

When the Keyster and his wife have a free evening, we mostly head to our locally-owned favorites such as Knick’s, Caragiulo’s, Chutney’s and our super-secret fave, Tasty Home Cooking (which makes sliders to die for). And for an afternoon cup of coffee (double tall latte for Mrs. Keyster and an Americano for me), it’s usually the wonderfully named Local Coffee & Tea in Siesta Village. Next door is another special local place: Davidson’s Drug, where the Keyster’s dog is always welcome and which carries everything from prescription drugs to wine to a fine collection of board games to beach essentials.

Perhaps my favorite local biz is the one that keeps our aging cars moving: Chuck’s Automotive. You’ll swear you’ve Back to the Futured into the 1960s as you drive up to its sagging service bays, all open to the weather. Piles of old tires, dusty wrecks that haven’t moved in years, and wall calendars advertising manly tools and diagnostic equipment are all in sight. But don’t ask for Chuck, because the place is run by Jeff. I became a lifelong customer the day a couple of years ago when he reached inside the Keystermobile, did a five-minute repair (and this before he really knew me) and told he there was no charge. Without Jeff, we would have been forced to buy newer cars.

Especially in this difficult economy, we make an effort to do business with people like Jeff (who doesn’t do sound systems, ergo, Best Buy fixing the car stereo). Yep, we also visit the national chains/big boxes and have been known to buy a year’s supply of dental floss and contact lens fluid from the crew from Bentonville. But our heart and much of our consumer spending, goes to locals.

CBS & The New York Times together: what could go wrong?

June 24, 2009

Democrats in Congress are banking on a survey conducted by two bastions of liberal/Democrat party thinking to ram through socialized medicine. The recent “poll” from The New York Times (motto: “All the news that Dear Leader has approved”) and CBS (Continuous Barak Sycophants) showed that Americans are widely in favor of the government running the nation’s health care system. With a proposal modeled on your local Department of Motor Vehicles and its “customer service,” Congressional Dems are poised to foist this travesty upon the nation with little or no debate.

The Keyster has come across a copy of the NYT/CBS poll questions and wanted to share them with his readers. The following actual questions were asked of the 895 respondents, 894 of whom identified themselves as either Democrats or “so in love with Obama that I swoon at the mention of his name.”

Question #1
“Who do you want to run health care: insurance companies, who we know for a fact use the outrageous premiums they charge your grandmother to expand their fleet of corporate jets, or Barak Obama, who loves his wife and has cute kids and a new puppy?”
A. President Obama, because he cares for me
B. Insurance companies, because I’m an uneducated yahoo who just rode in on the turnip wagon

Question #2
“Do you want completely free health care or do you want to spend 75 percent of your total income on health care and eat dog food for the rest of your life?”
A. Free
B. Kibbles for life

Question #3
“How much do you hate the current free-market system, which is slowly bankrupting your family to pay for your doctor’s membership at the tony Pebble Beach country club where a stupid burger costs $21?”
A. I really hate it
B. I hate it worse than Bush/Cheney/Halliburton

Question #4
“Where do you get your information about the health care crisis that Dear Leaders has blamed for the worldwide financial crisis and the fact that french fries are fattening?”
A. The New York Times because I’m really sophisticated
B. CBS because I admire the integrity of Dan Rather
C. There are no other news sources

Why I like Andy Roddick

June 23, 2009

The Keyster worked out at the local gym this morning. As he was sweating away the stress, the telly silently was broadcasting the second day of tennis matches, live from Wimbledon. American Andy Roddick was playing a Frenchman and having a fairly easy time of things.

Back in February, Roddick did something that gained little attention in the States… but showed him to be a man of integrity. Here’s what transpired:

There is major petro-money in Dubai and for years they’ve sponsored both men’s and women’s tennis tournaments, back-to-back, featuring huge cash purses. This year, the women were up first. The day before the tournament, Shahar Pe’er, an Israeli, was denied a visa to enter the country and play her matches. The women’s sanctioning body, noting the blatant violation of its by-laws… did absolutely nothing. The women playing the tournament, including the two Americans (the Williams sisters) who made the finals… did absolutely nothing. The tournament went off as scheduled without Pe’er. Yeah, the Women’s Tennis Association fined the Dubai ogranized $300,000, chump change. They sold out in the face of anti-semitism, as did all of the players who competed.

With the men set to compete the next week, Roddick, a top-10 player possessing the most lethal serve in the game, announced he would not play in the $2 million Dubai tournament. He said it wasn’t right for Dubai to discriminate against a Jewish player and he wasn’t having any of it. Out of 64 players (most of whom are really wealthy) and two sanctioning bodies flush with sponsor money, only Roddick took a stand.

Oh, Roddick won today. Let’s hope that he continues to turn in great results. And that his example will shame all those who remained silent that we cannot let such discrimination go unnoticed.

A Father’s Day thought

June 22, 2009

Yesterday, the Keyster enjoyed his best Father’s Day ever, Siesta style. Headed to the beach about 5 p.m. (1700) for a picnic of chicken salad (please, don’t mention this to our friends at the PolloPlayer blog) and broccoli salad. We sat on the cool sand talking with friends as the sun sank lower in the sky. The kids floated in the 90 degree Gulf on goofy inflatable couches with their friends. This being Sunday night, the drum circle was in full booma-booma mode, but at least it’s only once a week and thankfully, Motrin really does wonders for headaches.

Anyway, as the Keyster laid back and drifted off it occurred him that every day should be Father’s day. How does the most popular prayer in the Western world begin? “Our Father…” The fact we awoke today, that the day brought forth sun and warmth, that we had food to eat and water to drink, that our families were near us, that this earth was perfectly created just for us… all because of “Father, hallowed be your name” (as recorded in Luke 11)

The concept of God as the Father was introduced by his Son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus explained that his Father was the father of all creation and through Him, his only Son, we can approach a holy God and can call him “father.” He created us to be in fellowship with Him. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are, in fact, Father’s Days.

This just in!

June 21, 2009

Iran is ready to blow, North Korea is threatening to nuke Hawaii and unemployment is at record highs in most states. So this morning’s Herald-Tribune breathlessly reports on…”Frozen custard lures the Obamas.” This hard-hitting, investigative piece covers nearly all the bases of Obama worship including Dear Leader as uber-dad, Bo the Portuguese water dog and “look, he’s just another guy, except he’s saving the world!” Oh, and right next to this gem is a massive story by the NYTimes reporting on a poll, hmmm, conducted by by the NYTimes, showing that everybody, that’s right, almost every single U.S. American, is in favor of socialized medicine.

The incredible shrinking daily newspaper

June 20, 2009

Like dozens of my fellow U.S. Americans, the Keyster starts each day with a strong cup of coffee and the local daily newspaper. (For our younger readers: a newspaper is a combination of news stories and advertising, printed on dead trees and tossed onto your driveway each morning). This morning after the dog was walked, the Keyster sat on the porch as the rising sun reflected off the canal, ready for his morning ritual.

I opened the paper to the Sports-Business-Local-National-Society-Opinions section, got out my magnifying glass and read the headline on this morning’s story: “Obama More Wonderful Than Even We Knew, Tiger 10 Back at Open, Employment Soars Because of Bush and Those Icky Republicans, City Needs More Taxes, Planned Parenthood Fundraiser a Huge Success.” Two minutes later, I was done. I fired up the laptop to get some news.

Newspapers are in big trouble. In major cities such as Detroit, Seattle and Denver, once proud newspapers are gone, their names living on only as feeble sites on the internet. Here in the Keyster’s home port, the Herald-Tribune is still hanging around, fingernails on the cliff. During the past year, it’s shrunk to about the size of a napkin at Bubba’s BBQ Emporium, and filled with mainly wire copy from its parent, The New York Times. It puts on a brave face like nothing’s changed. But most of its readers have moved on, never to return. And generations are growing up who will never read a newspaper.

After careful analysis, the Keyster has determined what’s wrong with the newspaper industry and its business model.

Approach to customers, typical business: “We’re so glad that you’ve considered us for your your hard-earned money. How can we help you today?”

Approach to customers, newspapers: “You ignorant, toothless, homophobic racist. You are so stupid! I can’t believe we even let you buy our paper. Get out of our sight before we change our mind.”

I gotta be honest. I hope the local fishwrap makes it. The best outcome would be for the Times to divest itself of the Herald-Tribune, thus freeing the local staff to think for themselves. They would be free to have editorial writers who know how to catch mullet with a throw net instead of Krugman (motto: The federal government needs to be responsible for the entire GDP or we’re all gonna die!) and Dowd (motto: Bush, Cheney and Halliburton, oh my!).

But I’m not optimistic. Most papers blame their customers for their woes. It’s just too painful for them to look in the mirror and see that they’re the problem.

Florida: the Grouper Sandwich State

June 19, 2009

The Keyster has lived in Florida for more than two decades. Quick: when you hear Florida, what comes to mind first? Yep, the “sunshine state.” Accurate, yes. But by now, it’s a little stale and let’s be honest, other states such as Arizona and California can also make that claim. I think it’s time to revisit our fair state’s symbol.

The Keyster’s license plate features a nice orange. But because of development and disease, the citrus industry is in decline here and besides, Brazil is by far a bigger producer of oranges than our sandy peninsula. Other options would be a condominium tower (again, accurate but hardly romantic and its vertical format doesn’t lend itself to a horizontal license plate) or a pyramid to reflect our rich history of Ponzi schemers.

At dinner last night, it hit me: the grouper sandwich is the true symbol of Florida. When my mother visits from the West Coast (the one bordering the Pacific Ocean, not the Gulf of Mexico pictured on our logo above), the first thing she wants is a grouper sandwich. In fact during her stay, the preferred dining option involves a grouper or mahi mahi sandwich at least weekly. Last night’s presentation at the Philippi Creek Oyster Bar would definitely look great on our license plates: a big thick slab of fresh grouper, grilled, served open face on a sesame-seeded bun. The only reason I knew it was on a bun was because I could see the top; the bottom was hidden under that savory, crumbly grouper (don’t cook this fish on your home BBQ). We’ll get artist Ralph Smith to create the graphic for our license plates and bing: Florida, The Grouper Sandwich State would be done.

While we’re on the subject, several other states really need to freshen things up. Here are a few thoughts:
— California: that bear works well because of the bear stock market, but the Keyster would recommend that that West Coasters try: California, the State of Bankruptcy. A stylized bankruptcy court building would look great on the license plate.
— New York: Empire State? Lame and inaccurate. How about, New York, the Land of Limitless Taxes. Aspirational and inspirational at the same time! The only danger lies across the Hudson where New Jersey is fighting hard to steal the #1 in tax burden from New York. It will take a concerted effort by New York legislators at all levels — state, city and country — to keep taxes ever climbing.
— Massachusetts: Actually, I can’t even think of their slogan. May we suggest, Massachusetts, Where Gay Marriage Began. The license plates would look terrific with a couple of those wedding cake dudes in tuxes holding hands.
— And finally, Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes. Okay, I know there are a lot of lakes up there, but Wisconsin and Michigan can both go one-on-one with Minnesota in the lake department. Much more timely would be, Minnesota, No Candidate is Too Nutty. The license plate would feature Al Franken and Jesse Ventura.

Just in case you thought you were in charge

June 18, 2009

Last night we drove over the big bridge in the midst of the most awe inspiring lightning storm we’ve seen in Florida. To the east, tremendous bolts flashed from the clouds to the ground every few seconds, each strike capable of inflicting great damage to man and property. The thick, jagged bolts were followed shortly by chest-thumping thunder. Even with the wiper on high, there was no way to clear the water from the windshield fast enough. Much later, after the storm had passed to the south, the Keyster carefully took the dog for her final walk of the night. Lightning still illuminated the clouds but it was distant. The dog quickly did her business and wanted to head back home, right now. God’s power and might are so far beyond what man or beast can comprehend. Many people cower over the big ones such as earthquakes and hurricanes. But each lightning strike reminded me that God is everywhere, His ways are not our ways, and He is worthy of all honor and glory… and fear. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”