Conversations With A Mad Man


view:  full / summary

Real men cook

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on May 28, 2013 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Real men cook

Most men can cook and be great at it. It’s simply a question of jumping in there and doing it, with plenty of great recipes, in books and online, to get you started. From there it’s simply getting in the kitchen regularly, experimenting with recipes, honing your skills and developing good food instincts.

Being from a certain generation, I learned to cook from my Mother. From around age 5, I would hang around the kitchen and watch her cook. I was convinced that this is a skill I must have. “What if my wife can’t cook?” was my rational and the source of my endless motivation (The fact that my father’s culinary skills are non-existent, was no-doubt a contributing factor).

My Mother is an intuitive improvisational cook, which made for great food, usually. Meals were mostly an adventure. Recipes, simply a starting point, with favorite dishes coming out a little different every single time. A modus operandi I always loved and still follow.

As I grew up, I experimented with all kinds of foods, mostly with good to great results. My exploration of all that is edible via cookbooks and later the food channel, involved cooking many different meals and trying new ideas (10,000 hours and all that jazz). As I progressed in my quest for great food, I realized that although most of my friend’s mothers were the primary cooks at home, the majority of great chefs and restaurant chefs are, and always were, men (not that there is anything wrong with it).

Fortunately this is fast changing with a meaningful increase in women chefs, giving us more creativity and options for great food, outside the home. But even today, most executive chefs are men. Out of 2,134 certified executive chefs in the US, only 92 are women, which represents 4.3%.

While historically, the outdoor BBQ was the domain of manly men, we men are increasingly moving into the indoor kitchen; a good thing indeed.

During my marital period, I alternated cooking with my then wife, who is great cook. After the divorce and as I evolved into vegetarianism and then veganism, I stepped up and developed recipes for my son and me. In addition to making sure we ate nutritious and delicious food, it created traditions and memories in my home with him, and allowed for a separation and feelings of uniqueness and comfort in my 50% percent of his time, distinct from those experiences in his time with his mother at her house.

Food goes far beyond nutrition and sustenance. It is an essential ingredient in family, friendships and community. Most, if not all, of our holidays revolve around food and special dishes. Every country, region and ethnic group have unique foods. There are foods for every mood and, like music, food and smells of food trigger memories and feelings of belonging, special times and being home. Great food, presented right and consumed with care and interaction, is a theatrical and spiritual experience. Some men have always been part of that discipline, mainly on the professional side. It is high time we conquered the home kitchen and participated in that most important and essential life ritual. This is an opportunity for men to experiment and give birth to satisfying edible and social delights. It’s an opportunity to contribute and build a culture of food in your home, starting with your spouse and kids and expanding to your extended family and friends. Everyone’s life will be richer and happier and your future daughter/son-in-law and grandchildren will thank you for it. And to get you started, following is a favorite, easy to make, delicious and nutritious vegan pasta recipe. Enjoy!

Vegan Spinach Pasta Serves 4


1. Angles Hair Vegan or your favorite Pasta. We like spinach or brown rice

2. Fresh garlic – 4 cloves

3. One Medium Red Onion

4. Half to One medium Red Pepper

5. Bag of fresh organic spinach

6. Box of Fresh Basil

7. Handful of sun dried tomatoes – Dry kind not in liquid

8. 6-8 Mushrooms

9. Olive oil

10. Grated favorite cheese - optional


1. Cook Pasta in salted water al dente

2. Chop and sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent

3. Add chopped red pepper and simmer

4. Add spinach and basil and let wilt for a few minutes

5. Add chopped mushrooms and chopped sundried tomatoes

6. Add a cup of salted pasta water and simmer

7. Drain pasta and add to pot, mix and simmer for a few minutes.

8. Serve and enjoy 9. Goes well with a side of green salad or steamed broccoli

*For the non-strict vegan among us, sprinkle grated cheese/s of choice to taste.

A very stupid and bad video

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on February 23, 2013 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (4)

A very stupid and bad video

4 American’s and 10 Libyans are dead in Libya because ofriots blamed on a vile, ignorant and bigoted anti-Islamic short video of 13.51minutes.  The video, apparently, atrailer for a movie?  Has been on utubefor several months with little attention until an Egyptian satellite TV channeldecided to incite riot with it and so it did from Egypt to Libya to another 12countries in the Middle East and Asia with no end in site.

Out of simple curiosity (after all it–in addition tointelligence–is what separates us from the plebian and beasts!) I decided towatch it, and a very painful experience it was. The video is so amateurish it is laughable. It appears to have been madeby a very inept infantile group of people, probably young and with no talent,maturity or experience.  It was probablymade by just such people but older and with specific intentions to incite riotsand violence and build a case for American hatred for Islam.

Who exactly those people are we don’t know.  Resources should be devoted to findingout.  Freedom of Speech–a right Icherish–is not absolute nor can it be. Incitement to riot and violence is an exception and considering the realand predictable risk of serious violence and possibly death involved here, acase might be made for reckless endangerment and possibly murder.

It is important to note that this video was not the cause ofthe riots, violence and death but merely a convenient excuse for the extremegroups out there who launch and coordinate these acts of violence.  It is also important to note that the Libyaattack that resulted in the death of 4 Americans, including the US Ambassadorand 10 Libyans was done by a well equipped and armed commando unit which nodoubt planned this operations in advance.

The resulting unrest and violence and acts of murder andterrorism as part of the Arab Spring are not unique to that Arab world.  Fall of dictators and oppressive regimesoften results and transition periods where extremists in those societies grab power,for a while, and try to advance their extreme causes and ideologies byviolence.  America is no the right trackin supporting and assisting the moderate, progressive and voices of reason inthose societies and in assisting them to build a strong civil society whichwill minimize, if not prevent, the ability of extreme elements to cause suchdevastating damage.

The fact that such a repulsively boring, infantile,amateurish and bad piece of media can be used as a pretext here for such widespread riots, violence and murder, is simply an indication that a segment ofthe population over there is splashing in the very shallow, narrow minded andreligiously ignorant waters.  Not unlikeother places of this planet, including our own back yard.  War against women (REAL), War against thepoor and the middle class (REAL), War on science and progress (REAL), War ofthe planet (REAL), War on voting rights and Democracy, and more, in our backyard is no less insidious and is and will have even more dire consequences ifwe don’t stop them. 


"Culture of Life"

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on August 28, 2012 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (1)

“Culture of Life”

It is amazing how inventive we are and how words and phrases can be so easily manipulated to advance one’s agenda, valid or not. The anti-choice people, those who favor personhood amendments and a return to the pre-Roe v. Wade world of abortion being illegal in all cases–including rape, incest and the life of the mother–have a new slogan: “Culture of Life”. I must say, it sounds great! Who can possibly be against the “Culture of Life”? Only mad people surely.

However, us being sentient beings after all, and just as an intellectual exercise, lets go a little deeper and explore what “Culture f Life” the way they use it actually means.

America still has the death penalty in 33 states plus the U.S. Government and the U.S. Military. In the first half of 2012 alone, eight states executed 23 people, half that number in Texas and Mississippi. In 2011 the US executed 43 people, according to Amnesty International, ranking it fifth in the world in Capital Punishment, after China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, not exactly the company we want to keep or the example we want to follow.

It is important to note–as reported by the Innocence Project–that since 2003 17 people have been proven innocent and exonerated by DNA testing in the US after serving time on death row. These people were convicted in 11 states and served a combined 209 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. “Funny” thing about killing someone, you cannot bring him/her back if you made a mistake, as the state did in these cases. We can also never return the lost years these people spent in Prison, while being INNOCENT, but we can at least release them and allow them to live the rest of their lives as free people, something you can obviously not do if they are dead.

What makes this issue even more important and frustrating is that all those anti-choice believers and proponents, even in cases of rape, incest and life/health of the mother, have no problem, as a whole, with the death penalty. If this is the “Culture of Life” why are we, as a society, executing people? And we are doing so with the full knowledge that our imperfect legal justice system has a troubling and unacceptable record of convicting the wrong people in alarming numbers, with the belief of this writer, that even one falsely convicted and executed person is too much!

Another layer here is religion. Fundamental to the Personhood campaign is that once the sperm fertilizes the egg it is a Human Being with full rights and privileges. That is not a scientific view of life but a religious one. Assuming, arguendo, that we are believers here and that God is the source of life and all that is so amazing about the universe and our existence as a small part of it, what gives us the right to executed people? Should that not be the prerogative of God?

And that brings me to my final point here. The Republican Party platform clearly states no abortion under any circumstances including rape, incest and health/life of the mother. So if the mother’s health and life is in danger if she cannot abort the fetus, are the anti-choice people saying that the fertilized egg of a few hours, days or weeks is more important that the life of a fully grown woman? Let the mother die?

Of course during pregnancy and after birth there is no assistance and care to the mother and fetus/baby/kid since that would be “Big Government.” Government monitoring each pregnancy and making sure we get the result Government wants, that is not “Big Government”. Protecting, assisting, educating us after we are born to ensure productive and competitive Americans is bad. Government forcing women to carry babies to term and having them, regardless of circumstances and the possible resulting poverty and misery, instead of quality of life, is good.

Just what is the “Culture of Life” according to this anti-choice view: It seems that it is limited to forcing women to carry their babies to term under any and all circumstances. What happens during the pregnancy and after the baby is born, if he/she is, well that is your responsibility. You are alone after all.

Rape is RAPE

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on August 21, 2012 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (8)

Rape is RAPE!

Rape in specifically and legally defined as “the commission of unlawful sexual intercourse or unlawful sexual intrusion without consent” (important to note here that gender or marital status is no longer a controlling factor. While in the past a husband could not be charged or convicted of raping his wife now he can. In addition people of the same gender can rape each other, men raping men or women raping women, as well as women raping men). Consent is the key here. Although historically the issue was force and violence which negated consent, putting a burden on the victim to resist which usually results in more violence and injury as well as higher risk of death (Rape after all is a crime of violence and domination), consent was redefined starting in the 1970’s. Lack of consent is viewed from the point of view of the victim. Lack of consent can either result from forcible compulsion by the perpetrator of the threat of such or incapacity to consent on the part of the victim. This can be either due to age (sex with a minor is deemed statutory rape since a minor is deemed not capable of consent to sex) or due to a chemical or drug whether ingested voluntarily (the victim got drug of her/his own accord or was slipped a drug or forced to take to drugs or drink). The bottom line is No means No and not being able to say No (age of under the influence) also means NO!

Seems pretty reasonable and fair, does it not? Not so fast. Just when you think it is safe to get in the water, or just as you are relieved we are out of the dark Middle Ages, here come the scraped knuckled Neanderthals with their women, surprisingly not far behind, launching a several decade campaign to redefine Rape for the purpose of outlawing abortion under any and all circumstances. The firestorm was reignited this week by congressman Todd Akin, a congressman from Missouri. Akin, who inexplicably and disturbingly, sits on the Congress Science and Technology committee, juts won the Republican nomination for Senate race in Missouri, trying to unseat Claire McCaskill, an actual moderate Democrat. Akin, in a TV interview Sunday indicated, in reply to a question about Abortion in the case of rape, that pregnancy from Rape is “really rare” because “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down”. He went on the say that “But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.”

Naturally these misguided, idiotic and ignorant statements generated a firestorm of objections from the left and from the right. We all thought that these issues had been resolved and put to rest in the past. Now we have US congress members parsing Rape into “legitimate” or “illegitimate.” What is even substantially more troubling is that Congressman Akin co-sponsored two bills with Congressman Ryan, yes the one running as Mitt Romney’s running mate for the highest office in the land. One was a bill to eliminate federal funding for abortion (currently federal funding is not available for abortion except for incest and rape) for rape, unless it is “Forcible rape?” (2011 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act). Ryan and Akin also co- sponsored a personhood bill that defines life as a fertilized egg, giving it exact same rights as a human being, which of course means that no abortion is available under any circumstances (rape, incest, health/life of the mother or any other reason). It also means that in addition to banning abortion it also turns many forms of birth control into murder. Specifically all those methods, like birth control pills, that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus. In addition infertile women or couples would not have the benefit of science, like in-vitro fertilization, since not all embryos are used. This Sanctity of Human Life Act of 2009, is clearly unconstitutional. Congress does not have the power to overrule Roe V. Wade except by a constitutional amendment. This raises some very interesting issues like separation of church and state, big v. small government, freedom and civil rights. The right is arguing for small government but want government big enough to control women and their reproduction buy forcing them to have invasive non-doctor recommended vaginal ultrasounds and carry their babies to terms with no exceptions.

So what does this all means? Sadly it means that we are slipping backwards and that when times get tough or whenever we make progress as a species, a meaningful number of us take refuge in a religious and narrow-minded fools paradise. It means that our freedoms and protections are being threatened and curtailed by an ignorant group of radical fanatics who do not believe in science and progress but instead lead their lives based on some misguided beliefs with total disregard of facts. What it also means is that all the talk about “small government” is code for only “my kind of government and as large as I want it”. The talk about freedom is code for “ as long as you follow my beliefs however misguided and unsubstantiated they might be.” It’s also about replacing our own judgment with that of others who held positions of power and created books, documents and systems to perpetuate their influence and power and those, today, who claim to speak for them and carry on their mission.

Life sure was “so much better” when Women and African Americans and others were chattel with no rights or power, don’t you think?. For those of us who believe in humanity, in the entire amazing plethora and splendor of its diversity, in addition to loving and appreciating the mostly delightful and delicious females of the species, the battle is on and victory will be achieved. If history is any indication of the future, darkness never ends up winning. We are currently under attack by those living in a state of fear and ignorant bliss.  But rest assured that reason and enlightenment will win in the end.  Sadly, that will have to do until we find a way to make stupidity painful.

The bottom line here has not changed. Pregnancy termination is an agonizing life changing decision and should remain one that is private and made by the woman with her man, family and doctor.  Government has no place here.

We are not all the same?

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on August 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (2)

We are not all the same?

On July 19, 2012 Ann Romney in a TV interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, when asked about Mitt Romney releasing more tax returns, said “We have given all you people need to know”. I will not jump to the obvious conclusion just because Robin Roberts is African American. I’m pretty sure that was not Ann Romney’s intent. Her statement is substantially more disturbing and insulting than just a race issue. This is a perfect example of the worldview of the entitled rich few vs. the rest of us “People”.

History is filled with examples of the entitled fortunate few, not quite getting the life and reality of average regular folks. History is also filled with the entitled rich few blaming the suffering struggling masses for their lot in life. And who can blame them, they do not know any different. The results of this worldview range from the relatively benign of “Let them eat cake”–to the ongoing and growing bullying problem we are experiencing, to engage in agressive and dishonest actions designed to dismantle the social safety net and to deny people affordable health care, to extreme cases of horrific genocides in human history, especially in the last 100 years. The former ended up in the French revolution and the beheading of the lovely and entitled Mary Antoinette, while the latter in the torture and death of millions. Nothing good ever comes from self important entitled perception, very deficient in self awareness, that one or small group are worth more as human beings than others, based on social status, money, race, gender, religion, belief, shape, national/geographic origin and/or sexual orientation etc. Obviously it is the prevention of extreme results, which unfortunately keep happening in disturbing regularity, that is the point here.

There is a common thread in that tapestry of man’s inhumanity to man. That thread starts, revolves around and ends with the fundamental belief and premise that we are not all the same. It all begins with the false premise that some of us are worth more as human beings. It is the origins of bigotry and hatred. The foundation of racism, anti-Semitism and all the other isms out there that caused and continue to cause pain, torture, death and destruction of humans by humans for centuries. History has showed us over and over again how incendiary this slippery slope is. By comparison all the hoopla over gay marriage is clearly a non-issue. Gay marriage will not result in an epidemic of group marriages, people marrying their dogs and other such nonsense. We know this because it is irrational and because none of this has come to pass in the states where gay marriage is legal (and yes society can legitimize the love of two people of same gender without legitimizing polygamy or bestiality). We also know that teaching and living with the premise that others are less human than you has resulted, over and over again, in atrocities.

Of course I am not saying that Ann Romney is a racist or a bigot. What I am saying is that she is a “Richist”. Her comments reek of entitled indignation and indicate that she believes she is not, and should not, be subject to the same standards as “you people”. Just what “you people” she is referring to is not clear. Is it you media people? You African American people? You Democrat people? You non Mormon “you people”, Or, all you 99% of American’s with less money than us very rich people? In any and all these cases, this is very dangerous ground indeed.

Just yesterday August 15, 2012, in an interview with Natalie Morales, Ann Romney, again defensively declared “We have been very transparent to what’s legally required of us. But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questioned…” Leaving aside the obvious issue of Ann Romney not being the one that is running for office, qualified or not, the logical conclusion here is that the Romney campaign decided it is better not to release more returns, and especially those from 2009, and put up with the issues that raises, rather than releasing them and putting them put there for the voters to see and question. If there is nothing to hide, why not release them and be done with this?

The other possibility is that Mr. and Mrs. Romney just don’t think that we the people have a right to know these facts about them, even though we have been given these facts about all other presidential candidates. It is this word view that they do not have to put up with this level of scrutiny since after all, they are who they are, and they decide what information we the people are going to get. That double standard that differentiates between people and groups is the breading ground for our ongoing descents into the personal, national and global abyss.

But in the real world, and back to this presidential election, we the people require disclosure of basic and essential information about you before we elect you to be president of these United States. Anyone who does not feel comfortable disclosing this pertinent and relevant information to us, should not run for the highest office in the land. Unlike the private lives of movie stars, which are really none of our business, presidential candidates history and their character, governing experience, ideology and specifically fiscal history, tax behavior and philosophy are critical to our voting decisions. This is a beauty pageant and the burden is on the office seeker to convince us with facts, truth, honesty, vision and integrity that they are the one to lead us. Failure to do so will simply result in, well, failure!

Bloviating Ignoramus

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on June 5, 2012 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Bloviating Ignoramus

George Will and I don’t agree on much. As a matter of fact, we probably don’t agree on most things. However, I was feeling the love when I heard him refer to Donald Trump as the “Bloviating Ignoramus”. Overwhelmed by a sense of well being, albeit temporary, I rushed to the computer to share the good news and pay the love forward.

There is very little comfort available in today’s rude, mediocre, self-absorbed and voyeuristic culture. One cannot turn on the TV without being slapped in the face with some other idiotic “Reality” show. The unwashed have taken center stage and thinking people of maturity and self-awareness are better served running for the hills.

This milieu, however, provides the perfect platform for the army of Bloviating Ignoramuses that are out there, Donald Trump merely one of many. With another mediocre and unwatchable reality show of his own to fuel his already overinflated ego and a basement intelligence (yes I am being generous here!) small audience that cares to listen, Donald has resurrected the “critical and meaningful”, albeit false and infantile, argument that the President was not born here. I, for one, expected no better considering the source. What is of concern is the play this has been getting in the media and the fact that another mediocre individual, running for the highest office in the land, chose to partner with Trump for cash and “Fame”. Mitt Romney is an non-entity as one can get and exemplifies what is wrong and annoying about our culture where making money is an end in and of itself and the means to get there are all valid, regardless of consequences to others.

However, reality is a little different. There still is compassion and community out there. There are still random acts of kindness done for the doing and not for the expectation of rewards and self-promotion. People still seem to care about their fellow man and woman and will still go out of their way to help and make things better. The problem is money and its corrupting and corrosive nature, in the wrong hands. Big picture and culture wise, Gordon Gekko was wrong. Greed can be a motivating force and promote achievement and excellence, although still the wrong motivation, but this is far outweighed by the negative consequences and sheer volume of pain and destruction it usually creates. In the post Citizen’s United world, a handful of extremely wealthy people can fund any and all political campaign’s, put their drone of choice in office and influence those already in power for their personal benefit at the expense of the rest of us.  And lets not forget the other big problem of the army of wealthy individuals and corporation funded lobbyist who have been corrupting our democracy for decades.

I am all for success and accomplishment and like living well like the next guy. However I do not believe it should be at the expense of and in creation of misery for others. There are rules of engagement in business and fairness and fair play must be the golden rule. You award hard work and excellence and make a best effort to provide a level playing field.

One or a few Bloviating Ignoramus’s is not the issue. It’s the “Good men that do nothing” which makes evil prosper and take our country down.

Solution = Single Payer

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on February 16, 2012 at 8:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Solution = Single Payer

 The current contraceptives tempest in a teapot, left me no choice but to write a blog.  The current year is 2012 and the vast majority of us (99%) use contraceptives.  Important to note right here that this is not just a women issue. Most men are delighted not to have to wear a condom to prevent pregnancy when in a committed relationship, and no STD issues or the possibility of such is a consideration.

It’s bad enough that we have a ridiculous discourse over abortion in this country. An ignorant, religious belief based, dictatorial and imposing. But contraception?  That issue is resolved and done with by all concerned of all faiths, beliefs,non-beliefs and persuasions.  The only ones that seem to relish in creating an issue out of a non-issue are political opportunists from the right and a few Catholic bishops who are not part of society or real life.  They do not have relations with women, don't marry, don’t father children and generally have no clue about real people living real lives.

This is clearly NOT a religious freedom issue. This is clearly a women health issue, simple and clear.  We all have opinions and beliefs and causes we are for and against.  As citizens we have our vote and freedom of speech to convey our positions.  Those that are against war can protest, write letters, petition our government, but ultimately we have no control over our government defense and war spending. Healthcare is not and should not be the business of  faith and that is the bottom line.  The church should not be in the healthcare business.  The church can preach its point of view and belief to its flock, who then can decide if they want to follow it or not. Healthcare has nothing to do with religion of religious beliefs.  Contraception for women if not just for family planning and prevention of pregnancy.  It is critical for a variety of conditions and prevention of some. And lets not forget a very critical issue:  Preventing pregnancy via contraception eliminates the need for termination of said pregnancy for any reason, health and safety of the women included.

The battle over contraception is so far removed from relevance and reason; it would be laughable if it were not so critical.  But there is a very easy solution here and it is as obvious as sunrise, sunset and the nose on our faces.  Single Payer healthcare, where choices of coverage are made by individuals based on scientific prevention and health reasons and not faith or partisan-political reasons made out of ignorance, misogyny and simple lack of self esteem, self confidence and most important, selfawareness. And yes, lets not forget stupidity.




Home for New Year's Eve.

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on January 3, 2012 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Home for New Year’s Eve!

Although I remember New Year Eve’s out with all its rituals, drinking and “Joyful” parties designed to bring in the new year in with others, some you know and some you have no desire to know and will never see again, for the past 15 years the option of staying home was and is my first and only choice by far.

2011 was not a particularly good year, personally or as a human on this small blue/green planet and there is no reason to think–assuming one engages in rational thought which is a rarity these days–that 2012 will be any better. We humans seem to be bend on destructive behavior, personally and as a race, using the power of reason to rationalize and justify our behavior instead of modifying it to preserve, sustain and evolve our culture, humanity and species.

New Year's Eve is supposed to bring about some though and analysis to past behavior and the birth of and commitment to a plan for change, leading to a better New Year. Alas, these plans of mice and men usually don’t amount to much, as we all tend to go back to old habits and patterns.

Which brings me to New Year’s Eve. 2011/12. As has been my tradition for several years now, New Year’s Eve is dinner at home with my son and/or friends, watching several of Chris Curtis’ schmaltzy but very satisfying films. Although the first movie is always “Love Actually”,  the second is up for grabs. This year the choice for second film  was “Notting Hill”, which compliments “Love Actually” beautifully. However, this year we also had a very special unexpected delight, the weather!

Our food choice this year was Rosti. It is just up the street and provides delicious basic Italian food. There was no debate on the offerings. We ordered Chicken Milanese with roasted potatoes and broccoli, minestrone soup and pizza margarita with mushrooms. As always, while we wait for the food we went next door to "Nothing Bundt Cakes" for a chocolate/ chocolate chip mini cake and another flavor of fancy of the moment, this time red velvet won!

As we stepped out of the house to get the food, we thought we died and went to heaven.  A fog had moved in and the dry cold air was replaced with soft cool mist, soothing to the throat and lungs. Streetlights reflected through the trees in a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors, only made possible by the mist. It was like we stepped into a werewolf and vampire wonderland, the stimulating, not mutilating, kind. It is the kind of weather that makes one feel alive and happy to be so.

The evening just got better from there.  the food was delicious, the company delightful and Richard Curtis and Co. delivered two movies about love, first and mature, friendship of all ages and overcoming obstacles and loss to find that all elusive happiness once again. Schmaltzy? Absolutely. A little naive? For sure. However, filled with wonderment and humor which proves, every time, very nourishing to the soul, in a perfect balance to the food that filled our tummies and satisfied all those taste buds.

Happy New Year

Jobs, Fairness and the American Way

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 23, 2011 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Fairness and the American Way

With 25-40 million American looking for jobs and/or a full time job, the issue here is simple: Where are the jobs?

Taking the Republican premise of lower taxes to the “Job Creators” will result in the jobs at face value, the obvious issue and problem is: where are those jobs after 10 years of lower taxes?  It is peculiar that during the Clinton years with higher taxes for the upper brackets, 23 million jobs were created, the economy was booming and the federal government had a surplus, while under the Bush W. administration, taxes were cut, approximately 0 to 1 million jobs were created (depending on who you talk to) and we went into a financial meltdown and recession due to unregulated financial institutions that went Wild Wild West with our money, with disastrous results.

Yesterday NYC Mayor and billionaire Blumberg presented a solution to our economic problems.  Blumberg suggested that President Obama should declare that he will veto any attempt to renew the Bush tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year (another decade of those cuts for the top 5% will cost the US treasury 2 trillion dollars).  He went on to say that we should not worry about responsibility on this issue but that we should move forward from that point, and let bygones be bygones (kind of a reconciliation process without the apology and come the Jesus part).

Now, that kind of sounds like a good “Turn the other cheek” kind of a plan, doesn’t it? However, there is a small problem with it, and that is, accountability and consequences for ones actions, or more accurately, the lack there of.  After years of a rigged system that made sure wealth flowed up and did not trickle down, now we want to forget the recent past and the  sacrifice the majority of the US population made and start anew, leaving wealthy individuals and corporations, and specifically the financial investment and banking industry, that was the major cause of this crisis and misery, to enjoy the fruits of their poisonous actions with impunity. And what kind of a message does this send to young people who plan to get into the financial industry?

And lets not forget the contribution of our representatives in the congress and senate (sitting pretty with good pay and great health benefits and pensions) as well as the previous administration, and to a certain lesser extent, the current administration, to this crisis.  Agai, the issue is that without consequences and accountability there is no motivation to change–simple human nature –and the reason and need for a penal system, albeit a reformed and modified one from the current unfair and broken one we have.

To Mr. Blumberg, all I can say is, it is easy for the billionaire to call for forgetting the transgressions and corruptions of Wall Street investment bankers and others who participated and profited for years from a system rigged in their favor, at the expense of the middle and lower economic classes, although I applaud his efforts and contribution to  coming up with a fair solution.  To make it a fair solution, shared sacrifice as the guiding principle has to include the existing sacrifice of the middle and lower economic classes and the accountability of and payment by those who have profited from the current system, as the opening move to changing and improving the system to make it fair for all.  People should be rewarded for their hard work and contribution and given the opportunity to improve and join a prosperous again middle class and not just those who are connected and close to the troth. Government has an important, albeit limited, role to play in making our country competitive again as well as restoring it to being the world’s most coveted destination.  That requires and demands a big and bold jobs plan that will get Americans back to work and restore the US position as a manufacturer of goods and services for export to the rest of the world, in addition to, being the cradle of innovation  (The deficit, a worthy and important issue that MUST be resolved, needs to take a back seat to our critical unemployment and recession challenge).

To accomplish those goals requires specifically, revamping our education system to graduate the best and brightest, as well as all others, to be able to compete in this global economy, a revamped immigration policy that provides foreign graduates the ability and motivation to stay and contribute here in the US after they benefited from our higher education institutes, as well as, providing a path to citizenship to those who qualify, a fixed and improved infrastructure across the nation to facilitate commerce and innovation and a revamped tax system that does away with loopholes and provides for a fair sharing of the tax burden across the whole US population.

It is perplexing and sad to see the Washington DC debate still not focused on the critical issue of jobs and instead concentrating on the deficit, partisan politics and the usual social issues red herrings.


"Super" Committee - Really?

Posted by Tsach Gilboa on November 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

“Super” Committee – Really?

Surprise, surprise the Super Committee created by Congress and the Senate to reach a deficit reduction plan, has failed to reach agreement and put forth a plan.  And as the game blame is in full swing, the bottom line is that they failed, as did Congress as a whole, to get to a deal, any deal. The pitiful fact is that we, the American people, would be delighted to see any plan or proposal for us to look at.  Guess it was too much to ask for and that fact simply accounts for the dismal approval rating congress has.

If this does not compute to you, dear reader, it is because it simply does not.  After ten years of tax cuts, we are in the midst of a grave recession, and a good 25-40 million Americans are looking for a job or a full time job and are unable to find one (I know since I am part of that group and have been daily looking for over a year). 

Lets not forget that after Congress decided to create this committee, the President sent them his deficit cutting plan, that included revenue increases–God forbid (lets also not forget that although Republicans are refusing to raise taxes, they actually are raising them by refusing to extend the payroll tax holiday).

The public, on the other hand, has spoken very clearly.  Raise the top tax bracket and close tax loopholes and make sure those of very large means–be it individuals o rcorporations–pay their fare share of taxes.  It is also important for some in congress to understand that pledges–especially idiotic ones like the Grover Norquist one­–are not binding and best reserved for fraternities and sororities.  Grow up and realize that your duty as a representative is to represent the best interests of the American population and not wealthy donors and Washington lobbyists.

And the best interests of America, country and public, is a prosperous economy, people working and building lives producing goods and services we then market around the world. To get there we need to fix education (takes $), fix infrastructure–physical and virtual–(takes $), invest in R&D (takes $), and provide a springboard for people to get within a reasonable distance of the “American dream”. This requires a partnership between government and private interests and an adult mature understanding of economic and social forces, something currently in very low supply in our capital and our culture. 

The big issue here is lack of participation.  People take their tax cuts and stay home.  We send other people’s children to die in made up wars that benefit large corporations and the military industrial complex and borrow money to pay for them.  And as our economy spiraled out of control, mainly due to Wall Street paper pushers, who while neither supervised nor regulated, played fraternity games with people’s life savings and lost them and then went on their merry way with no accountability or consequence.

Being a citizen of a country–especially a democratic one like ours–carries with it a grave responsibility.  That responsibility is one of participation in the political process, joint sacrifice in the bad times and fairly sharing in the prosperity in the good times based on opportunity and hard work.  Accountability and consequences are a critical part of the process as well as full participation by all, burden as well as rewards.

Critical part of the democratic ingredients is peaceful protest.  The Tea Party movement, the Occupy movement are both part of that democratic process with a big difference.  The tea party is the brainchild of the right wing billionaires, the Koch brothers, while the Occupy movement is a middle class and student popular protest movement fed up with the control of the wealthy over our power structure in Washington DC, as well as, their confiscation of most of the wealth while refusing to share in the tax obligation.  While clearly in favor of the latter, both are part of our political democratic process and should be allowed to prosper or fail based on their merits

The images from UC Davis campus of peaceful studentde monstrators being pepper sprayed by Campus Police nonchalantly walking back and forth over the sitting students while spray flooding them with military grade pepper spray for no rime or reason, are very disturbing.

Most telling is the reaction by the republican presidential hopefuls.  The current weekly flavor–Newt Gingrich–“Get a job after you take a bath” ("Clearly" in touch with the reality of 40 million Americans) and his solution for income disparity “Get rid of all union janitors in schools in the poor areas and have students perform these duties for payment”( Did you ever hear of child labor laws Newt?).  If this is the great intellect the right has to offer, we are in serious trouble in this country. We are facing great and grave problems and the solutions are complex and difficult and require leadership, wisdom and sacrifice.  Wisdom is what is needed most and not demagoguery, fear and meanness, and that my friends is in very short supply indeed.  What we hear is “Lead not read” (courtesy of the Simpsons and Herman Cain) and the rebirth of the George W. Bush philosophy that the American President does not have to be smart or well informed cause ”he has advisors and experts for that”.  What is being missed here–due to intellectual deficiencies–is that a President needs to be very smart to lead and to be able to navigate the waters of domestic and international affairs as well as be able to choose the right advisors and accept the wise advice while rejecting the not-so-wise advice.

The clear silver lining here is the fact that people of all ages and walks of life are getting involved and they are changing the national discourse to the urgent issues of economy, infrastructure, education, healthcare and ending the wars. This is what free speach, freedom of assembly and democracy are all about.  And to Newt, the parks and public facilities being used for protests are part of public property we all pay for, and as long as they are used in peaceful protest, they are being used appropriately, strengthenin our democracy and country.

Clearly the established power structure is overreacting, as they always do, to challenges to their supremacy and authority. That is a good sign since it means that the protests are working and change is here.  Unfortunatel, due to our broken system of politics and governance in the congress, meaningful or any forward movement will have to wait till 2012.