Will Someone Tell Mitt That Losing Your Job Is Not Funny

Romney was campaigning today in Wisconsin and tried to inject a little humor into his stump speech in order to show how “down to earth” a guy he really is before their primary next Tuesday.

One of most humorous I think relates to my father.
You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors… They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign… So every time they would start playing ‘On, Wisconsin, On, Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin.

Audio follows the jump.

Etch A Sketch Comment Not Etched Into Minds Of The Electorate

Although it has been almost a week since the Romney campaign compared voters to an “Etch A Sketch”, but the general public is not following politics as closely as devoted Philadelphia Jewish Voice readers. According to the latest Pew Research Center Poll, 55% of voters were unaware of Romney campaign’s Etch A Sketch Gaffe. However, the gaffe has not escaped the attention of satirist Stephen Colbert.

The Pledge

— by Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach

Howdy!

Beginning when we are children, we all take pledges. The earliest pledge for most of us is when we pledge allegiance to the flag. Most of us earnestly do this before we know what “pledge” or “allegiance” mean. All I knew was that it involved “the Republic for which it stands” which I assumed was all one word (“Forwhichistan”) and was probably near some of the smaller, similarly named countries in Soviet Siberia.

As I grew older I learned there are other pledges people take, almost all of which are bad ideas. For example, some people take a “Pledge of Chastity,” which, if the statistics are any indication, is tantamount to a pledge to get pregnant, immediately.

Then there are the loyalty pledges we made people sign during our dark, McCarthy period (I refer to Senator Joseph McCarthy, not Charlie McCarthy, the ventriloquist’s dummy, whose view of anti-communist purges is more ambiguous). Turns out, that people who are disloyal, have absolutely no problem signing loyalty pledges. Go Figure.

I remember taking the Boy Scout pledge. I don’t remember all of it, but part of it was me swearing to be “brave, clean and reverent.” But as a 15 year old, I was a scrungy, blasphemous coward, so clearly that pledge needed some tweaking.

Then there was the “Pledge Pin” where a young man would insert his fraternity pin directly into the pectoral muscles of his best gal. At least that’s what I did. Maybe that’s why I never got second dates. And then some pledge their “troth,” and who the hell knows what a “troth” is?

The point is that most pledges are a bad idea. They usually involve promises to do things that you know won’t feel right or won’t be right in days to come. That’s why you take the pledge now. You are saying:

“No matter what happens in the future, no matter what facts change, or what circumstances change, or how I change, I am pledging to this bone-headed thing, no matter what. So help me God.”

Let me give you an example. suppose I take the “No Right Turn Pledge,” which says as follows:

I __________, am of reasonable intelligence. This means I am not as dumb as a ________, nor is my name _____W. ___. I hereby pledge, when driving on the streets of Pennsylvania, that I verily, and with utmost rectitude, will never, under any circumstances, make a “right turn,” or “right hand turn” as people who need extra help call it.

I shall refrain from turning right even if I am driving straight and my destination is on the right. Or, if I am heading towards a brick wall and my breaks fail, and there’s a huge cliff on the left. Or, lets say I see a big sign that says “Lots of Money ahead, on right!!!”  Nope not even then.
By my Hand  _________________

Seems kind of silly, huh? Well, our governor has signed a pledge which makes the “No Right Turn” thing seem like pure genius. I refer to the “The Taxpayer Protection Pledge.”

This is a pledge written by a man named Grover Norquist, who has, to my knowledge, never even been to Pennsylvania (he may have taken a pledge not to), but who nonetheless appears to be running the state.

Mr. Norquist’s pledge requires the signer to never, ever vote to create a new tax or increase an existing one. It does not matter how low the existing tax rate is, what kind of tax would be raised, what it would go for, how dire the state’s fiscal situation is or how tiny the increase would be.

So even if the rapture did happen on May 21 (and I’m quite sure the guy is right about the new date) and we needed a small tax on… say… cigars to help deal with all of the unexpected rivers of molten lava and swarms of locusts, that would be unacceptable to Grover.

This pledge applies under absolutely all circumstances. If it only applied when it made sense, you wouldn’t need a pledge. That would be a no-brainer and not require the services of Mr. Norquist.

Recently, some in the legislature suggested that we charge the Marcellus Shale drilling industry a “local impact fee” to help defray the costs of the damage they do to the communities where they drill. The supporters of this proposal made it very clear that this was not a “tax.” It was a “fee.” You can tell because “tax” and “fee” aren’t even spelled the same. Plus, the money raised would not go to educating kids or giving medicine to sick people, or any other part of the radical, Kenyan Socialist agenda. Surely, Grover Norquist would smile on this.

But alas unicorns, it was not to be. Grover, communing with the Spirit of Jack Kemp, as well as the spirits of the Koch Brothers, who while not actually dead, are too rich to require physical bodies, issued his edict. This fee was really a tax, and would be a violation of The Pledge.

So apparently, because the Governor signed this ridiculous pledge to ignore all facts forever, our hands are tied. Grover Norquist rules the day, despite the fact that this does great damage to our state, despite the fact that he was never elected to anything in Pennsylvania, and despite the fact that his name is Grover.

I have an idea for a pledge. It goes something like this…

“I, ______ hereby pledge that I will address every public policy question with an open mind, and that I will consider all the facts and do my best to do what’s right for the people of Pennsylvania, without regard to rigid ideologies, or bone-headed pledges written by dudes I’ve never met named “Grover.”

In the name of Zeus ____________

Done. Now I’m off to put my troth on EBay.

Daylin

The Great Latke-Hamantaschen Debate


Austan Goolsbee, former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, advocates for the latke at the 61st annual Latke-Hamantashen Debate on November 26, 2007.

Gary Tubb, Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, advocates for the hamantashen at the 62nd annual Latke-Hamantashen Debate on November 25, 2008.

By Hannah Lee

Since 1946, the intellectual nerds at the University of Chicago have had fun giving annual mock-serious presentations on the relative merits of the fried latke versus the baked hamantaschen.  Its popularity has spread to other campuses, including Kenyon College, Middlebury College, Stanford Law School, George Washington University, Amherst College, Swarthmore College, Williams College, Wesleyan University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Brandeis University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, the University of Minnesota, Mount Holyoke, Bowdoin College, UCSD, Haverford College, Johns Hopkins University, University of Denver, Buntport Theater, and one secondary school Milton Academy.  Yeshiva University held its own debate for the first time on November 22nd and Team Hamantasch won.

I learned about these annual debates when my daughter enrolled at the University of Chicago and was even invited to serve as banner-carrier.  This year’s debate was re-labelled  “Sixty-Five and Never Retiring: A debate over Social Security like no other,” but I think the more fun symposia are on the original topic of food preferences.  The “The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate” published in 2005 by the University of Chicago Press and edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea includes “Consolations of the Latke” delivered by Philosophy Professor Ted Cohen at the 1976 Latke-Hamantash Debate.  

So, which do you prefer: the latke or the hamantaschen?  

King Davids of Comedy in NYC

Tired of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas Eve? Try some of the top Jewish comics in the business as the King Davids of Comedy take the stage. Our mensches present their hilarious schtick as the great tradition of Jewish comedians continues at the brand new Laughing Devil Comedy Club. Shows are hosted by Philadelphia Jewish Voice writer Steve Hofstetter from the Late Late Show and lineup is TBA – though past guests have included Jeff Garlin, Sarah Silverman, and more.

More after the jump.

Shows:

Click on desired showtime and use Promo Code: PJVOICE

One-third of ticket price will be donated to support the Philadelphia Jewish Voice if you use the Promo Code: PJVOICE .

1% Chutzpah

Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction:
Hensarling (TX) co-chair, Toomey (PA), Upton (MI),
Kyl (AZ), Camp (TX),  Sen. Portman (OH),

Murray (WA) co-chair, Kerry (MA), Baucus (MT),
Clyburn (SC), Becerra (CA), Van Hollen (MD)

The after-tax income of the top 1% of US Households has almost quadrupled since 1979. Meanwhile those at the bottom experienced an 18% increased according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Accordingly 68% of Americans are asking the richest to do their fair share and pay an extra couple of percent on their marginal tax rate for their income beyond $1,000,000. Nevertheless, the Republicans on the “Supercommittee” charged with reducing the deficit are intransigent. They have signed Grover Norquist pledge to never increase taxes and want to balance the budget by cutting expenses. This puts onus largely on the backs of the working poor who will suffer the most from reductions in social security and other entitlements.

However, the Republicans did offer a token compromise. Yesterday, they offered to eliminate certain deductions. Millionaires would no longer be able to write off interest paid for their yacht or summer home.

However, in exchange they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent and expand them, slashing one-fifth of the income tax for millionaires by reducing the top rate from 35% to 28%.

That’s not tax reform.

That’s chutzpah.

Memories of Past Passovers

— Steve Hofstetter

This year my wife and I will be spending one seder at her mother’s and one at my mother’s, but in the future, we may be starting our own Passover traditions. And I admit, I am completely lost.

I began thinking about the Passovers I knew growing up, and how the holiday was the same every year. There’d be an occasional change in which random elderly cousin coughed a lot in the last seat, but from five to fifteen years old, I had twenty identical seders.

It would be unfair of me to expect that the seders my wife and I might throw in the future will involve just my traditions and not hers. So to help me think about which I’d like to keep (and entertain a few readers simultaneously), I wanted to recount the memories that most say Passover to me. I’d bet at least a few of these will remind you of your childhood, and help you determine what you’d like to keep, should you ever JDate your way to your own family.

More after the jump.
The holiday started with my mother spending hours cleaning the oven while listening to ads for Schmerling’s chocolate. We never bought any Schmerling’s, but I still remember the theme song. Maybe we never bought any because we always associated Schmerling’s with the smell of Easy Off.

What we did buy was lots of other candy. Our staples were ring jells, lollicones, those sugar covered fruit jellies that were in the shape of tiny pieces of watermelon, and a truck load of marshmallows. Passover was the only time of year where it was easy to find kosher marshmallows, so we bought every kind we could. My favorites were the chocolate covered pink bumpy marshmallows. The white ones were an acceptable substitute, but the pink ones were the real thing.

Preparing, we’d help my mother clean for as long as we had to before one of us came up with an excuse for why they shouldn’t clean. My mother would only fall for this briefly before we were right back scrubbing away. Perhaps my most important future Passover tradition will be a maid.

We’d know the seder was getting close when the cabinets and the fridge were all covered in paper, and my father finished making the charoset. My sister usually helped, mainly to sneak some wine.

As the seder approached, we distributed the Maxwell House haggadot, where the transliterated Hebrew was spelled out as if everyone had a Brooklyn accent. These haggadot are the tradition I miss the most, as my mother switched brands when I was in college. Part of what I miss is our teasing every time my mother would change the “He” and the “Him” to gender-neutral terms.

One of my sisters would speed read, my brother would keep us all on task of whose turn it was, I would substitute words to see if anyone was really listening, and my other sister would insist on reading in Hebrew, even though her Hebrew was as fluent as Moses’ English.

We also decided which child was which of the four sons, and were happy to play our parts, despite our mother’s constant protest that we were all the good child. That’s right, “child” and not “son.” Even the four sons had to be gender-neutral.

As the youngest, the four questions always fell on me – so I did my best to get through them with as few breaths as possible. We used celery for karpas, which led to my father making the same joke every year about how “it sounded like a Doritos factory.” To this day, I am sure my father never took a tour of a Doritos factory.

The meal was constant – egg soup, chicken soup (I guess the egg did come before the chicken), gefilte fish, salad with my mother’s Passover dressing, Dr. Brown’s everything, and then some sort of giant meat dish none of us had room for. The main thing that varied was who would find the afikomen, and how they would tease the others that missed out.

That was our main dynamic. My brother, one sister, and I cracking jokes, my father trying to join in, our elderly relatives watching quietly (except while coughing), my mother telling us to be more respectful, and my other sister echoing my mother. My parents are now divorced, three of the kids are married, and my sister can finally read fluent Hebrew, but my Passover memories are frozen in 1994. Though it’s been 17 years since we’ve all had a seder together, it’s hard for me to see Passover any other way.

I’m glad my wife and I are splitting our uncomfortable confusion equally this year. In the future, we will probably take a few traditions from each side to create our own holiday. And as long as that includes the pink bumpy marshmallows, I’m okay with that.

Steve Hofstetter is an internationally touring comedian who has been on VH1, ESPN, Comedy Central., and many more. To book him at your next event, visit SteveHofstetter.com.