The Last 2016 Casualty – Carnegie Deli

The Carnegie is packing up the brine barrels on New Year’s Eve.  Fortunately Katz’s says it’s expanding, not going anywhere


Thank goodness.  Can’t take any more shocks.

Carnegie was a legit classic deli that survived decades and the slow decline, like the Stage Deli and Second Avenue Deli (the new version pales, sadly) who succumbed earlier.  It’s something to have made it this long against the tide as literally hundreds of similar establishments faded from the 60s through 00s.

One would have thought the Carnegie transcended to such a storied and landmark place that it could survive forever, but business is business and decisions are made by people, not institutions.

I was in a deli in Blue Bell, PA recently..  A nice little place, trying to do good deli tradition. On the walls of the restaurant were blown up black and white photos of classic delis like the Carnegie, Cantors, Katz’s and a few that were already defunct.  I went around the room identifying them all and toting up how many I’d eaten in.  When I noted how great the photos were to our Waitress, she said that she hadn’t actually looked at them, didn’t realize that they were photos of existing and formerly existing places.  They might as well have been Elvis on black velvet to her.

That’s how tradition dies.  When the people entrusted with it treat it as merely a job. Better to have the Carnegie die an honorable death still on its feet pushing pastrami, pickles and potato pancakes to a hungry and respectful clientele who knew they were tasting 100 years of tradition, not just a sandwich.

This is Why I Don’t Bother With Israel

There’s no end to the stupid has no better proof than the Israeli-Palestinian beef.  The problem isn’t at all about 1,000 years of conflict over land or religious identity or the future of the “Jewish State” or any of the thousands of things that people talk about when they talk about how complex the issues are.  No, it comes down to some stupid people not really caring enough about peace and life to just cut through the bullshit and think of the future.

Jimmy Carter called it when he said that Israel had become an apartheid state.  And when he said that, a Jew I used to know called Carter an anti-semite.  And what else do you need to know about how fucked up the political situation is?  I’m sure that today John Kerry is now an anti-semite even though he bent over backwards NOT to use the word “apartheid.”   By the thinking of Israeli hardliners millions of Jews are anti-semites.

The Jews in Israel (and America) get that Israel can’t allow their growing Muslim Arab population to have democratic rights (it’s their harsher version of gerrymandering) or they cease to be a Jewish state so they’ve twisted and demented their democracy and rationalize that.

The only answer is the two state solution.

And yet Israeli conservatives don’t want that.  Or they say they do, but never do anything to move that forward and then cite that ubiquitous catchall ender of arguments “security.” Like Trump and solving his conflict problems (or almost every issue), it’s just bullshit.

Like many issues here in America, it seems to have come down to rational people who actually study issues, respect facts and want to achieve some solution that works for people – versus irrational people spouting nonsense and denying reality as they assert that they also care, they just disagree – although they can’t even agree on what the issues are. So the dispute has so transcended agreement and disagreement it’s descended to a Tower of Babel from another planet.

This reached “a pox against both houses” long ago.  Netanyahu and Trump are threatening to take it to “Oh fuck off” levels as “strong on Israel” is now equated to be a supporter of the conservative government, Israeli apartheid (but don’t call it that) and not even trying for peace.  Peace, is just what we all want, but will compromise nothing to achieve.

The NY Times played this is a line from “Fiddler on the Roof”

On one side was Mr. Kerry, venting years of frustration on behalf of President Obama and himself at what they consider Israeli intransigence.

On the other were Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump, firing back at what they deemed a hypocritical betrayal of America’s closest friend in the Middle East.

On the one hand, then on the other hand… I’ve run out of hands.  And patience.

2016 claims another victim – the two state solution.  And sanity.

Not that I care, because I don’t, I can’t even support Israel as a democracy anymore because it’s not.  I never supported it as a Jewish state because I don’t care about a Jewish state and by the way if your first concern was the safe continuing existence of the Jewish people after the holocaust I can think of many better places to have established a Jewish state than in Palestine.  Biblical nonsense actually trumped safety in this matter – it mindbogglingly continues to.

All that said, that growing Muslim Arab population in Israel is the greatest existential threat to Israel.  Historically speaking, holding a greater population down has never worked out for anybody.  What’s Netanyahu’s plan to deal with that?

I guess we may find out after January 20 when the irrational people running Israel will have counterparts in D.C.

The Opposition – How About a Shadow Govt.

Lots of debate on means and methods of how to dissent from and oppose the Trump administration from constant protests to giving the GOP the same treatment in the Senate they gave Obama.

Why not do what they do in the UK and form a Shadow Cabinet with a Shadow Opposition Leader?  Especially in this circumstance where we’re opposing a potential cabinet of plutocrats and nihilists sent to D.C. to destroy the departments they’re running, it might be a very good P.R. tactic to have a group of competent and statesmanlike public servants, who might have been in a Hillary Clinton cabinet, personify and explicate the opposition.

We could easily populate such a shadow cabinet with people who had those offices during the Clinton and Obama administrations.  At the ready to respond and express opposition to the policies of their Trump counterparts.

State Dept. – John Kerry
Defense – Leon Panetta
Justice – Loretta Lynch or Eric Holder
Labor – Robert Reich or Tom Perez
Agriculture – Vilsack
Energy – Muniz

Etc., etc.  Besides making themselves available to do television and radio commentary, they can hold monthly meetings, and prepare press releases that focus opposition to departmental actions and policies in order to publicize the horrors we expect from Trump’s Suicide Squad that would probably get little coverage.





Holidays – Let’s Talk Weight Loss

Oy!  Actually let’s not.  The Polislice gym schedule has been shot to hell since Thanksgiving.  And my New Years’ resolution is to stop making 20 pounds of ribs.  Also to stop believing my guests when they say  they’re really hungry.  They never eat enough and leave me with hordes of excessively delicious leftovers.

But, and here’s the good news for me, at least, I know that I will get back on the gym schedule and salad schedule and I’ll get back to where I want to be (or close enough).

A lot of people just have a harder time dealing with food and weight.  For them bariatric surgery may be the last choice.  But as this NY Times article following 2 people who went through the surgery notes, they now know why the sleeves and other methods that just constrict the stomach don’t work and why the methods that cut the stomach do work. It takes changing hormones for the person to lose their addictive NEED for food.

Nearly 200,000 Americans have bariatric surgery each year. Yet far more — an estimated 24 million — are heavy enough to qualify for the operation, and many of them are struggling with whether to have such a radical treatment, the only one that leads to profound and lasting weight loss for virtually everyone who has it.




Russia’s Hillbilly Heroin?

Russia’s got a drinking problem.  Okay, it always has.  The reputation is true, they drink vodka like 6 year old’s drink Kool Aid!  And then they too crash through walls.


I was intrigued when I saw the headline of After 72 Die Putin Tightens Limits on Consumer Products High in Alcohol for these reasons:

  • 72 people died drinking a “scented bath lotion” – why would anybody do that?
  • “Putin Tightens Limits” – has it reached that point where he’s that granular in their government that he’s personally overseeing what’s sold in stores?  There’s no Russian FDA for this?
  • the “scented bath lotion” was consumed even though the label said it was not for internal consumption because Russians are apparently great label readers and noticed that it said it was made with ethyl alcohol.  It wasn’t.  It was made with poisonous methyl alcohol.  Was that a typo?  72 people would be alive today if not for an extra “m”.
  • The scented bath lotion went for about $1.00 a bottle.  An average bottle of vodka starts at about $3.00!  Wow! if you’re looking for cheap Christmas gifts or to get wasted it’s friggin’ cheap there!
  • The real news here:

“The number of Russians who die from alcohol poisoning has been rising in recent years, and reached 14,250 in 2015, according to the state statistics service. Illegal surrogate products like the bath lotion account for about 20 percent of the market, and demand for them is growing very rapidly, according to RBC, a Russian news website.”

Wha?  That’s like the number of people killed by handguns here (not including suicides).

14,250 alcohol poisonings in a year!!  In a country of about 146,000,000 people.

By contrast: in the U.S. it’s about 6 a day or 2,190 a year.  That’s in a country of 310,000,000.

The Russian hillbilly heroin is bath lotion.  While legitimate alcohol products are their handguns.

Where Did This Come From?

About the only positive I can think of if Trump and Putin really did have the cozy buddy buddy relationship it seems they have (although, I’m afraid they’re more like George and Lennie from “Of Mice and Men”) is that they could, COULD, agree to further dismantle the too large and aging stockpiles of nuclear weapons the two countries hold on to.

Then completely out of the blue, Trump announces not just that he wants to modernize our nuclear arsenal (which is needed, the stories of nuclear weapons system degradation and here are alarming), but also expand it (which is a stupid boondoggle).  And then oh yeah, let’s get into an arms race with Russia once again!


Not strengthening and expanding would be a step towards coming to its senses, no?

By the way, the person in charge of our nuclear stockpile will be the guy who came in 12th in Dancing With the Stars.

This morning, back on Morning Joe sitting all cozy with Squint and the Meat Puppet he says this:

“Let it be an arms race”

To which Putin adds:

“Of course the U.S. has more missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers, but what we say is that we are stronger than any aggressor, and this is the case,” he said, according to the New York Times, adding: “As for Donald Trump, there is nothing new about it, during his election campaign he said the U.S. needs to bolster its nuclear capabilities and its armed forces in general.”

Is this their dangerous game?  Waste billions on a fake game of chicken and each of them steal a percentage of those billions in kickbacks.

Putin is already the richest man in the world with estimates of $85 billion in stolen Russian wealth.  That, of course, is Trump’s real attraction to Putin.  He wants that action too.  Putin and the white nationalists surrounding Trump, are making Trump the most useful idiot of all time.

Boy are we fucked!


Another Reason Not to Worry (Long Term)

I’m taking the low road on this very serious piece by David Dayen in the Fiscal Times (America’s Biggest Crisis has Nothing to Do With Donald Trump) about the pain, opioid addiction, depression, heart disease, diabetes and lower life expectancy in small town America.  The demographics of the country still point to a more urban, pluralistic and progressive future.  And if rural America is further decimated by the horrible decision making of those left behind by largely Republican anti-worker policies that they voted for, then maybe I will not shed a tear for them.

Add this all up and you get the incredible finding that life expectancy fell in 2015 for the first time since 1993 (the height of the AIDS crisis). In other words, we’re looking at something akin to a new plague. And it’s a localized plague, with deep impacts on middle-aged rural whites.

Ailments like cardiovascular disease and cancer are increasing significantly in Appalachia and the South, while dropping along the coasts.

Get some exercise and eat that kale, liberal!!

Italy Scrapping “Fidelity” in Marriage Vows. Viva Italia!

I love Italy.  Sure 93 governments in 60 years or some such staggering lack of stability, but they know La Dolce Vita, certamente!

If they pass this law you will not have to promise to be faithful anymore in Italian vows.

The thing I admire is that they recognize that extramarital fun time happens (55% of men and 33% of women admitted to cheating in a 2013 Italian poll) and it alone shouldn’t break up a marriage, legally.

The promise not to cheat is a “cultural legacy from an outdated and obsolete vision of marriage, family, and the rights and duties of spouses”, according to the senators who have signed the bill.

They cited a previous ruling from Italy’s top court, which declared that judges could not legally place the blame for a marriage separation “on the mere failure to observe the duty of fidelity”.

Instead, the other party has to prove that their spouse’s infidelity led to the irreconcilable breakdown of the marriage.

Historically, fidelity wasn’t just about the evil of the penis or the vagina wanting a little variety (and they do), it came down to the legitimacy of the children (so just the evil vagina, really).  But that not being a thing anymore, it does come down to getting a hall pass for some avventura.

The senators assert that fidelity should not be thought of only in sexual terms, but also in terms of “trust and respect”, and that while it was an “important value”, it should not be up to the State to impose it by law.

I fully expect that in America we could be up to like 50% of the country in open marriages, and 100% “cheating” and we’d persist in pushing the quaint idea of fidelity for a lifetime as a goal, because that’s what we do.

I don’t like the term “cheating” in regards to sex because it connotes getting something you do not deserve, by underhanded means.  Everybody deserves sex and the means are rarely all that dishonorable.  Everything’s negotiable, si? ♥

Fundamentals – Labor: The Republican War on Workers

One of the fundamentals of progressive politics was labor rights.  Building the unions built the middle class and that built the powerhouse economy of the mid-20th century.

Republicans shot America in both feet when they attacked and successfully dismantled American labor.  1. the GOP were the party of business interests who shortsightedly hated the labor unions that made them spend more money on labor, never realizing that labor was their partner in creating the demand that made them successful; and 2. the GOP perceived labor unions as pro-Democrat so they reflexively saw them as enemies.

They ran a successful effort to demonize unions, and along with the trade treaties and short term bottom line mentality that sent millions of jobs overseas and to right to work for less states, and automated many others, decimated the private unions and all manufacturing unions.  That union decline mirrors the decline in the middle class: American workers have had wage stagnation since the 70s while productivity kept climbing. That share of production that used to go into the pockets of the middle class employees now goes to the upper management and shareholders.

Germany never had a national party trying to kill unions.  In fact, by law unions have to be represented on the Board of Directors of German corporations.  Unions are still strong there, the middle class is still strong there, they still build factories there and nobody says “you can’t manufacture here anymore.”  They have trade deals.  Their trade is fantastically healthy because they’re still building things, by high skilled workers making decent union wages.  Globalization isn’t used an an excuse for the hallowing out of the middle class because that never happened there.

The Republican war on workers must end and be reversed. There are policies to achieve this and globalization and automation are not arguments against them.