Monday, December 30, 2013

1272 WestraDamus 2014

1272 WestraDamus 2014


With 2014 upon us, we offer the 25th anniversary edition of the WestraDamus antidictions, those for the year 2013 presented each December or January for the year gone by and generally wrong. 'Damus started as a parody of the forward looking astrological year-enders appearing in the supermarket tabloids, almost always wrong and never acknowledged as such. But the Non-Prophet has grown into an American institution, like the Tea Party, the Heritage Foundation, Chris Christie,  the Public Television begathon, global warming, the Kardashians, Reality TV and the war in Afghanistan.  So, we continue...


Top of 2013:
Obamacare: The President of the United States will stand before us and declare the start of universal health care.  He’ll tell us, we can throw away our Blue Cross cards, our Medicare and Medicaid cards and our diet books, secure in the knowledge that our health care costs and medicines will be paid for now and forevermore.


Mayor For Life:  Mike Bloomberg will decide to void the election of Bill De Blasio and will remain mayor of New York City until he bounces the check to the undertaker and is buried in a special plot in the courtyard of the Bloomberg Building on Lexington Avenue.


Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is will be exposed as a closet liberal and the father of ex-Governor Sarah Palin’s children.


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will defect to the Democrats.


In between bouts of doing nothing, Tea Party congressmen will start a fact finding mission to Honduras.  A spokesman for the group will explain that members feel they need fresh ideas to grow their plans for anarchy and what better place to start than in the country with the world’s highest murder rate. A side trip to Brazil will materialize after the facts are found.


Egypt will deny it is competing with Italy to see which country can have the most government crises in the least amount of time.


The Federal Reserve will reduce interest rates to below zero as commercial banks make up their losses and fines by moving into the payday loan business.


Also last year… the prospects of a government shutdown, a fiscal cliff and an unraised debt ceiling will fall by the wayside after each member of the Republican Party is presented with a Whitman Sampler containing pot laced chocolate covered cherries.


As Forrest Gump’s mother used to say life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.


Now, the month-by-month roundup:


JANUARY: Traveling Tea Party Congress members will look on in horror as  the nightclub they’re visiting in the southern Brazilian city of Santa Maria erupts in flame and results in the deaths of more than 200 revelers.  The Mayor, Cesar Augusto Schirmer, will tearfully brush off the deaths by declaring “A maioria dessas pessoas acabaria por ser um tiro de qualquer maneira which means  “most of these people would eventually be shot anyway.”


Remember those stoner chocolates?  Well, this is when they were first distributed. Without that this is where the fiscal cliff would have hoved into view.  But it didn’t.  Whitman’s executive vice president for  quality control will be quoted as saying “I don’t know how that stuff got in the cherries, but after extensive laboratory study I can assure you that wherever it came from it was the purest pot money can buy.”


The states of Washington, Oregon, Vermont and Massachusetts and the cities of San Francisco, Boulder CO, Madison WI, Chicago, Newark NJ and Ann Arbor MI will pass laws requiring passing a psychological test and purchasing liability insurance in order to legally own a firearm.


FEBRUARY:


North Korea admits it bought its latest atomic bomb from Amazon.com and would have detonated it in January but the company’s delivery drone was not ready.  Amazon denies this and a spokesman says “The package was delivered 28 minutes after Kim Jong un placed the one click order.”


The National Parks Service uses Presidents Day to announce that it will begin work on a newly commissioned likeness of John F. Kennedy on Mount Rushmore as soon as it can find Keystone, South Dakota using iMaps.  Hey, guys, just go northwest from Porcupine SD, hang a sharp left from Rapid City and keep an eye out for very big faces.


Superbowl XLVII pits the New York Jets against the Kansas City Chiefs in New Orleans.  Power goes out for 18 minutes.  This is traced to someone trying to run the microwave and the toaster oven at the same time.  It results one of the longest football games in history without a winner.


MARCH:


President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela will announce he is suddenly and completely cancer free after visiting what he describes as a miracle cure in his country’s little-known Grotto Citgo.  An apparently healthy, but oil-covered Chavez will appear in a series of print and television ads touting tourism which also features similarly oil covered chorus of smiling Venezuelans singing “Young at Heart” in English with Spanish subtitles. A quick on screen small print flashes “results not typical, yours may vary. See our ad in “Modern Grocer.”


The Higgs Boson or so called “God Particle” will announce its existence during a scientific conference in Italy.  It will step forward on the platform of an electron microscope and aided by a teeny tiny public address system declare “I’ve been here all along, but no one before thought to ask me who I am or what I am doing.  Well, the answer is I’ve been very busy keeping all these other little things in line and working.  This is no easy task.”  On hearing the announcement, scientist Peter Higgs will be seen in the back of the hall, thumbing furiously though his copy of “EZ Italian for the First Time Tourist” and asking people near him “what did that thing just say?”


Associate Justice Antonin “Tony Ducks” Scalia will ask others on the US Supreme Court for an immediate up or down vote on gay marriage. Chief Justice John Roberts will answer “Mr. Scalia, we have not yet even read, let alone analyzed or debated the law.”  And Scalia will reply “Johnny, you really have defected to the other side… it’s not just a rumor anymore.”


APRIL:
Kim Jong-un will announce the formation of the NKNAA, the North Korean Nuclear Arms Association as a trade association that, in his words,”will assure every member of this great nation of his right to bear nuclear arms.”  Speaking from his playpen, Kim will declare “The entire rest of the world may oppose us, except Iran, India, Pakistan, Israel and South Africa, but you’ll get our nukes when you take them from our cold, dead hands.”


Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will raid the Timothy McVey Agricultural Center in the town of West, Texas and confiscate what they say is the largest illegal cache of Marlboro Lights ever found in the United States.  According to regional chief of investigations Charles Hynes, the haul will have a street value of $278,432,657.23.  Lead first responder Michael Madeira will declare that “this amount of tobacco, combined with the 13 megatons of ammonium nitrate on hand, would, if exploded, cause the deaths of the entire town and spread cases of instant lung cancer to the entire State of Texas and parts of Oklahoma.”


France will become the first civilized nation in the Western Hemisphere to ban gay marriage.  Sixty million Frenchmen can’t be… married.


MAY:


“Orb” will win the Kentucky Derby and honors as the first three-legged horse to achieve the honor.


The US Department of Labor will announce the addition of a higher than expected 400-thousand jobs, ignoring the pink slips issued on arrival to 397 thousand of the new employees.


Moscow’s annual May Day military parade will show the world a host of new weapons in the Russian arsenal.  Included are a long range ground to ground missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead from the Kremlin to Chechnya and a satellite connected hotel style table lamp with an effective broadcast range of 32-hundred miles.


JUNE:


Moderate candidate Hassan Rowhani will be elected president of Iran.  In his first act of international diplomacy, he will withdraw from the North Korean Nuclear Arms Association, saying “We cannot trust that fat little kid to come to our aid when the aggressive imperialist forces of the Great Satan threaten to rain deadly Marlboro Lights upon the peace loving people of Persia.


The US National Security Agency will be accused of spying on everyone.  A spokesman will say “use your head, how could anyone do that?  How could we possibly have enough monitors to keep track of three billion people?” Meantime customers of the major cell phone services will find a new “federally mandated data interception and redistribution fee” to their monthly bills.


The US Supreme Court reinstates the Poll Tax.


JULY:


To use a technical term, lots of stuff will happen in the Middle East.  Something violent will go on in Egypt and something else violent will go on in Syria but no one will be able to figure out what it is or what they are. Of course, one can say both things and put them under any month. But this one will be especially scary because the United States will not know what is happening and which side or sides to be on.


Simple, ordinary businessman Whitey Bulger will be exonerated at his murder trial in Boston.  Interviewed after the verdict, jurors will declare “no gangster is named ‘Whitey.’” And then each will drive off in his new Lexus SUV.


Patriotic non-violent activist George Zimmerman will be found guilty in the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and sentenced to death by lethal injection.  Supporters will say the conviction is a travesty of justice, since it was obvious the sinister, hoodie-wearing child was obviously up to no good.
AUGUST:


Russia will reject the plea for political asylum from American Edward Snowden and send him back to the United States where he will receive a hero’s welcome and the Presidential medal.


Israel and the Palestinians will cancel a scheduled session of the peace talks because the caterer will offer pulled pork and otherwise fails to meet both kosher and halal requirements.  Former President Jimmy Carter will say “at last the two sides can agree on something substantive.”


The founder of Amazon-dot-com will purchase the right wing Washington Times newspaper and promptly shut it down.


SEPTEMBER:


Here’s where things get confusing, even for your non-prophet.  President Obama will seek congressional approval for military action against Syria and seek judicial approval for military action against Congress in efforts to (a) Free the Syrian people from themselves and (b) Free the American people to buy confusing health insurance policies.  Since congress can’t agree on anything, effort (a) will fail and since the Supreme Court is not in session (b) will fail.


WestraDamus is trying to discover a link between the Noah-like floods in Colorado and the recall of some of the state’s anti-gun lawmakers.  But Pat Robertson had not returned numerous messages at press time.


Public schools in Colorado will open this month.  Chances are fair to good that no one will be shot inside one for at least a week.


OCTOBER:


“Be late for Something Day” was to take place on September 5th.  Ceremonies will be held this month, probably on the tenth or eleventh. Cocktails at 6 PM, dinner at 7:30.  But it’s perfectly fine to show up any time before 11.


America’s European allies will react strongly to reports the National Security Agency spied on them.  French Premier Dominique Strauss-Kahn will be particularly vocal, saying “Not only did they do wrong, they did a bad job of it.  If they were any good, they would have known nothing went on between me and that hotel maid in New York.”


Microsoft will narrow its search to replace CEO Steve Ballmer to 87 people, none of which you’ve ever heard of.  A final decision is expected as soon as they can get their Windows 8 computers back on line and sift through the paperwork to find the least qualified candidate.


NOVEMBER:


The federal government will rule against the acquisition of US Airways by American Air parent AMR.  A judge will rule that AMR is skinning its own investors even though they will own 72% of the merged company. The merger would have combined two losing entities into one.  The formula Loser + Loser = Winner doesn’t work. Ever.


The famed St. Thomas Boys Choir of Leipzig will decide to admit girls for the first time in its 978 year history.  The reason: Boys are reaching puberty so early, there aren’t enough sopranos to fill the choir slots.


November will bring peace to the world.  Conflicts will end in the Middle East, the Balkans, In India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, North and South Korea.  And even to a small extent to the nut job and extreme nut job wings of the Republican Party.


DECEMBER:
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission will begin a crackdown on pedicab drivers with fast meters, despite complaints from the Pedicab Driver Association which will claim “we don’t have meters and there’s nothing fast about anything we do.” The TLC will say “yes, we know they don’t have meters. But if they did, 45% of them would be inaccurate.”


New Yorkers will mark the end of the Bloomberg Administration by staging a huge “Big Gulp-In” on the steps of City Hall.  And everyone will smoke.  Mayor Elect de Blasio will participate by personally giving away his boxcar load of vintage potato chips, all containing trans fat which will be hauled to the site by the tow truck seen in the viral video smashing cars during a snowstorm.


A new Christmastime movie will be released, starring James Earl Jones as Santa Claus.


So there you have the antidictions for 2013.  We wish you the best of luck. And be sure to keep track of these events.  Neatness counts.


Register.com has discontinued the hosting software we used for westradamus.com and the site has been removed.  We are working to find a new host for the site.

Comments welcome: wesrichards@gmail.com
(C) 2014 WestraDamus




















Friday, December 27, 2013

1271 Charlotte Would Be Proud

1271 Charlotte Would Be Proud


In recent years, there’s only one person who could stand up against New York mayor Mike Bloomberg with a chance of winning: his mother, Charlotte who passed away in 2011 at the age of 102.


The mayor has a sister and two daughters.  But chances are they, like anyone else stay out of his path, at least when it comes to non-family matters.


So as his 12 years in office come to an end next week, we take a look back at his administration.


There are some things you need to know about the man.  First, if he climbs any higher on the Forbes 400 he’ll get a nosebleed.  Second, he’s already given away more than the combined lifetime incomes of the first hundred people reading this page. Third, he plays the role of “smartest guy in the room,” and sometimes -- actually often -- he really is.


The mayor, any mayor, is often remembered short term for his screwups.  Lindsay the ineffective.  Beame the accountant who couldn’t fix the books.  Dinkins the swamped.  Giuliani the Batman of squeegee crime.  Bloomberg: of the road use tax, Big Gulp’s public enemy number one, green taxis and no smoking.


Later, history redeems them.  Lindsay brought peace to a city of anger. Dinkins eventually did build something akin to the Great Mosaic. Giuliani led us through and past 9/11.


And Bloomberg? Parks.  Rebuilding. Fiscal soundness, improved schools, a plummeting crime rate, stronger enforcement of the gun laws.  And a city government that runs what passes for smoothly in comparison to earlier years.


Are you better off now than you were 12 years ago?  Sure. Jobs are expanding, the streets are clean by New York standards, the unions are still thorns in the sides of the government and private industry but not extinct.  


So, complain all you want about things like tax rates, crowded conditions, rude taxi drivers, slow buses, too many homeless.  But overall we’re better off with Mike in City Hall than we were with many of his predecessors.


Bloomberg reminded the rest of the country that New York is not just another place. It’s a national leader in finance, thought, media, and complexity. And City Hall is a national platform for those mayors who choose to make it one.


Bloomberg certainly did that.  Gun control, diet, health issues were not just city concerns this past dozen years. He made them part of the national conversation.


And even though he’d been regularly accused of trying to create a “nanny state,” the conversation needed to be started.


Did he accomplish all his goals? No way.  Did he handle every emergency perfectly? Of course not.  Just think about that big snowstorm and the overreaction to the next weather threats.


We worried back in the day that he was out of his element when he first ran.  We worried about what would happen if he won.  We worried about what would happen if he lost.


But all of those worries were unfounded.

What’s next?  He’s been vague.  Everything from wanting to go back to work at his company at least part time to “drinking a small soda on a no smoking beach” as he said the other day on Saturday Night Live.


One thing you can be sure of:  we haven’t heard the last of this guy. 

Another thing?  Charlotte would be proud.


I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
(Note: your poster worked for Bloomberg News for seven years that began before Mike ran for office.)
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

1270 Exclusive! Duck Dynasty Interview

1270 Exclusive! Duck Dynasty Interview

In recent days controversy has swirled around the television program “Duck Dynasty,” a combination sitcom and reality show.

It started when the “Patriarch” of the Duck Commander company, which caters to hunters, Phil Robertson, declared in GQ Magazine that gay people are violating biblical law and are sinners.

A&E Network promptly suspended Robertson though as of now plans to continue shooting the series with the rest of the Robertson clan. This started some heavy duty exchanges between gay rights advocates and those that side with Robertson.

Lost in the midst of this media war is the voice of an important constituency and to remedy that, we welcome our guest Alfred Q. Drake, executive director of the AFMA, the American Flying Mallard Association.

Welcome, Mr. Drake.

Drake:  Oh, please call me “Quack” … that’s what the Q. in my name stands for.

Okay, Q, so this whole controversy must have hit you like high altitude turbulence at least for now.

Q: Oh, no, we were hoping for something like this to happen.

Hoping?  Why?  Do ducks have a particular fondness for gay men and women?

Q: Oh, no. It has nothing to do with that.  Just take a look at what these people do.  I’ve seen it first hand flying from Long Island to Florida for the winter. I made a side trip over Louisiana and that was a life-threatening experience.

How so?

Q: Well, look at what these guys manufacture.  They have this 20 thousand acre compound in Monroe, Louisiana.  And they make what may be the most accurate duck calls ever.  You know what that does? It lures thousands of us each year to untimely deaths.

So it’s not the gay thing?

Q: Of COURSE not.  I don’t give a day’s droppings one way or the other about people's’ sexual orientation.  I care about the lives of my fellow ducks!  They make a whole bunch of different calls and send their soldiers of fortune into the swamps and woods wearing those stupid looking caps and carrying those “Commando” ammo cases.  Why, it’s a disgrace!  I mean talk about following the Bible and the commandments and all… what ever happened to “Thou Shalt Not Kill?”

Is there any way you and the AFMA could reach some kind of accommodation?

Q:  Are you kidding?  Could the sane world reach an accommodation with Al Qaeda?  Or the Taliban? Or the Tea Party? Could Gotti reach an accommodation with Castellano?

Well…

Q: Could you reach an accord with your spouse?  These guys are in the business of killing ducks for the unmitigated pleasure of killing ducks!

Unmitigated?  That’s a pretty fancy word for a duck.

Q. Never mind.  We may be cute. We may waddle.  We may leave trace elements in your hair and on your lawn, but we’re not stupid.

Sorry.  So what do you think is going to happen?

Q:  I have no idea.  Probably those stubborn ZZ Top lookalikes will cancel the show unless A&E brings Robertson back.  But it doesn’t matter to us.  The damage is done.  These guys had an audience of about 14 million viewers, which is no small number.  But now the entire world has heard about them and you can bet they’ll expand Miss Kay’s Kitchen Collection to include a recipe book to go along with the carving board, the serving platter and that ugly cookie jar.

We’ve been talking with Alfred Q. Drake, Executive Director of the American Flying Mallard Association.  Thank…

Q: Wait just a minute.  Let me say that the AFMA has the word “Mallard” in its name only because we organized it.  We welcome ducks of any breed into the association.  No discrimination here… except maybe Peking Duck.  I’m allergic to the glaze.  And by the way, we’ve been open to geese and swans for decades.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com.
Shameless self promotion.  My commentaries have returned to the air. Listen each weekday at about 7:20 am and 3:20 pm.
© WJR 2013


Monday, December 23, 2013

1269 The Cash Discount Scam

1269 The Cash Discount Scam

The Target hacking is making all of us run for our credit card statements.  Some of us are actually checking our credit score, even those of us who claim we do but don’t.

Forty million compromised cards.  Admit it…  you’re scared.

A friend reminds that the financial press was all aglow some few years ago with stories of discounts for cash.  Ever see a sign like that in a merchant’s window?  He hasn’t.  And it’s tough to find anyone who has.

Some background:  The credit card issuers eat from both ends of the trough.  If you have an outstanding balance, you pay loan shark rates to rent their money.  If you’re a seller, you pay a percentage of each sale as a transaction fee.

In some places, it’s legal to pad the price to make up for the fee.  And some merchants have long charged cash customers less for gasoline.  But a discount it isn’t.

You sell stuff, you figure all kinds of expenses into your cost of operation.  It’s kind of like padding the price to cover the cost of your electric bill.  It’s just not an expense most of us figure consciously.  

A store sells fruit.  But it also has a few boxes on the sidewalk in front. Do you expect a discount outdoors because the guy pays no rent on his part of the sidewalk? Or makes change out of a cigar box so… no electric bill for the register?

At least one card company is experimenting thus:  You use our card, you charge your customer “x” percent more.  So you can claim you’re giving a discount for cash.  Sort of.  It’s like getting an itemized bill for a candy bar:
1 Hershey Double Whammy Deluxe with Almonds $2.99
Sales tax @ 7.5% $0.22
Credit card fee @ 1.9% $0.06
Total $3.27

Get in there and demand your cash discount!

You can expand this idea and make price stickers like those on cars:

1 Hershey Double Whammy Deluxe with Almonds $2.99
Sales tax @ 7.5% $0.22
Credit card fee @ 1.9% $0.06
Premium paper-backed aluminum foil under-wrapping (included)
Upgraded brown anti-melt over-wrap (included)
Attractive silver toned lettering (included)
EZ open glue (included)
Price tag printing fee @ $0.47
Good neighbor printing fee discount @ - ($0.47)
Total $3.27

Try buying a really big ticket item for cash.  You bring a suitcase full of $100s, 50s and 20s to the right car dealer, they’ll call the cops and they’ll haul you off because the only people who have that kind of cash are bank robbers and drug dealers.

Actually, it might be worth a try when buying a moderate price item.  Ask the clerk at Best Buy or Sears to forego the credit card fee if you buy that big-screen TV for cash.  You never know.

(Thanks for the idea to RTB who didn’t get skunked at Target.)

Shameless self promotion.  My commentaries have returned to the air. Listen each weekday morning at about 7:20 am and 3:20 pm.
I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2013