H'rumphs

Grandfathers Are Our Future

As the nation's leaders have warned us -- when they're not serving seconds on dessert to the wealthy -- our economic future is in jeopardy. If we do nothing to staunch the flow of government spending, we’ll be passing on an enormous debt to our grandchildren.

It’s a complex problem, but there's a simple answer: We need more grandchildren.

I'm starting immediately, having recently taken delivery of my first. And from her beautiful face and sweet demeanor you'd never guess her share of the national debt is about $600,000, give or take the taxes that deserving Wal-Mart heirs won't have to pay.

Her financial obligations aside, looking at this child reminds me of why superlatives were invented. In fact, WikiLeaks just released secret government documents disclosing that my granddaughter is cuter than anyone in the State Department.

Yes, her hair is a little thin in front, but the timeless solution of the comb-over is just one of many ideas I plan to suggest. Because, let’s face it, I need to make up for failing to raise my own daughters to be productive members of society. One is wasting her time protecting the environment, which Republicans say is no longer necessary. And the other -- the new mom -- is not a doctor (eliminating any use for the "My Kid's a Doctor and Yours Isn't" bumper sticker I ordered), preferring instead to be a hospital trauma nurse. Like that's hard.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2011
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Groping for Answers at the Airport

As one would predict, many humor writers are taking cheap shots at the new pat-down rules at airports. But at Sojourners we're different. Call it maturity, call it patriotism, but we take seriously the security of our national transportation system and would never stoop to tawdry jokes about agents groping strangers. At least not in the first paragraph.

But now that we're comfortably in the second paragraph, we can [giggle] probe this issue more deeply and [snicker] get to the bottom of it. Frankly, Americans are expressing mixed feelings about the new federal policy of fondling private citizens at airports. Oh sure, this happens on a regular basis in restrooms visited by members of Congress, but to the general public it’s a new experience. On the one hand, the airport pat-down -- in combination with the full-body X-ray scan -- might be the only physical examination you can get without a co-pay.

Security official: "You're free to go, sir, but I'd have that prostate checked out. It's a little enlarged. Of course, that's not surprising for a man your age, but I would still suggest --

Passenger: "OKAY FINE!"

Security official: "Next passenger, please. Now bend your knees, and cough."

Airport pat-downs could also greatly improve American dating practices. No longer would unattached persons have to subject themselves to the sketchy club scene or sign up for dating websites such as eHarmony or MyMotherStillThinksI'mCute.ugh. A security pat-down makes all this unnecessary, and it greatly accelerates the standard social timetable. When somebody bends down in front of you and squeezes your thigh, you're already on, like, the second date.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2011
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A Giant Flushing Sound...

Not to brag, but my new toilet was rated Best Flush for 2010. I don't know if this reflects its intrinsic design superiority or if the manufacturer was simply teaching to the test, but it does recall the original slogan of George W. Bush's education initiative: "No Child Left Behind; Check the Bathrooms." (It was supposed to be a reminder to school bus drivers, but Congress broadened it considerably.)

Regardless, my new toilet has three times the standard flush power, which means the user should not remain seated when the flushing process is initiated, unless that person's effects are in order and power of attorney established.

This is just one of the features of our new quarter-bath downstairs, the construction of which was my attempt to stimulate the weak economy while providing a place for me to use in the coming years when I become too frail to make it to my secret place in the back yard.

A quarter-bath, a home improvement concept of my own invention, is like a half-bath, only smaller, by half. There's space for a sink, a toilet, and a small person not wearing bulky clothing. Definitely a summer destination. There is room to sit, but not room to flail your arms emotionally after being denied use of the larger bathroom because family members, citing overcrowding, threatened to call the fire marshal.

In the rosy language of real estate professionals, our new addition might be listed as 'luxury closet w/seating for 1." But I just call it my Special Room, a place to hide from the growing conservatism that is taking America back. From what, I'm not sure, and specifically how far back is also not clear. All we know is that the Tea Party feels VERY STRONGLY ABOUT IT! In fact, they are definitely flailing their arms victoriously after the recent mid-term elections, although not in my new bathroom.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2011
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Nothing to See Here...

Having successfully survived a mid-life crisis -- mainly by living past mid-life -- I felt it was finally time to sell my Harley, the vehicle I procured a few years back to counter the feelings of insecurity that come with aging. (Actually, my insecurities began a few years before mid-life, specifically when Bonnie Hartley was mean to me in second grade. But my therapist feels strongly that I should just let it go and stop sticking my tongue out at random 7-year-olds.)

Fortunately, in the Internet age there are many ways to sell a motorcycle. I first placed an ad on Craigslist, but then I got calls from people wanting to date my Harley. So I decided to try eBay, a popular auction site famous for its ease of use among computer engineers with advanced degrees. For the rest of us, however, there is a high learning curve that includes accidentally purchasing things you don't want, such as 12 composting toilets that I somehow placed a bid on. Thankfully, I was outbid -- probably by some other first-time user shopping for a DVD player -- and didn't have to pay for my transgressions.

My motorcycle had been on eBay for a week, and the only response I got was from a guy who asked if his $6 bid included shipping. (I distracted him with a link to composting toilets, then pulled my ad before I got into more trouble.)

Finally a friend of a friend bought the bike, and I agreed to ride it out to his house for the price of $3,000 and a lift to the nearest subway station. As it turned out, it was the farthest stop on the entire D.C. Metro line, so I had to plan my strategy for riding an hour on public transportation with $3,000 cash in my pocket. With the confidence that comes from being a thousandaire, I accepted the challenge.

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Sojourners Magazine December 2010
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Cover Your Ears, Thomas Jefferson...

After more than 200 years of constitutional democracy, it may be time to try something completely different. I mention this only because recent events indicate that Congress, and the easily distracted people it represents, can't get anything done.

And what better place than in this, our November election issue (as opposed to our September-October "Shopping for School" issue or the upcoming December "Shopping for Jesus" issue). In a couple weeks, Americans will gather at the polls and once again prove ourselves unworthy of the wisdom of our founders, who specifically put the words "try not to be stupid" in our Constitution.

In fairness, kudos to the Obama administration for passing health care and financial reform. But frankly the complexity of each reminds me of my dad trying to teach golf to his adolescent son: "Keep your head down, shoulders back, knees slightly bent, and your right wrist straight. Okay, now swing. Why did you miss the ball, son?" My dad meant well, as did the Obama administration, but I was left with the same feeling afterward: Namely, I wonder if that cute girl in the foursome ahead of us is going to be at the pool later.

See, it's that kind of distractibility that makes Americans virtually ungovernable. We scream for a better country, but then we see a butterfly, reach for it, and as the saying goes, on the other side of the world an angel gets her wings, or something. (I was always a little unclear on the science of the Butterfly Effect.)

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Sojourners Magazine November 2010
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Election Year Blues.

It has come to our attention that Americans are confused by what they’re hearing from their leaders this election year. This is understandable. Because they’re all lying.

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Sojourners Magazine September/October 2010
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Who You Calling 'Alien'?!

As the 2010 mid-term election nears, Americans are preparing to choose the leaders who will take us into the future, or, in the case of “Ayn” Rand Paul, into the past. Paul is the candidate who doubts the severity of the massive Gulf oil spill because it hasn’t yet reached the shores of Kentucky. Paul also believes federal inspectors should spend less time on oil rigs and more time monitoring Walgreens, a private company that apparently is allowing people of color to sit at its lunch counters.

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Sojourners Magazine August 2010
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First Among Equals

I never look forward to my trips to Dallas, a red-state city short on political tolerance but long on congenial in-laws, who welcome me to their comfortable little patch of sagebrush while trying to distract me from the latest Lone Star lunacy.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2010
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This is Frank Luntz. No it's Not.

Frank Luntz sees things differently than the rest of us. As the Talking Points King for the Right, truth is always inconvenient for Frank, which is why he simply ignores it and manufactures his own version. Luntz is the strategist who puts words into the mouths of conservatives on Capitol Hill. (Although, in his defense, there might be other things in the mouth of perennially unsmiling Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-Grumpyland], who appears to be sucking on lemons. No problem. Luntz will turn them into lemonade.)

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Sojourners Magazine June 2010
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Inventor. Handyman. Genius.

As summer approaches, I look forward to the day, sometime in late July, when all the snow will finally be gone from Washington, D.C. But right now I’m writing from the confines of my home, trapped under three feet of snow and occupying my time by worrying about the porch roof collapsing.

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Sojourners Magazine May 2010
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