2006-07-06 / This Week's Attitude

This Week's Attitude

Some Select Subjects For Steamy Days Of Summer
By Neil S. Friedman


School's out, summer's here and the days are getting shorter and so is this week's column - sort of. There have been a few newsy tidbits lately that don't warrant a full column. Every so often novelists write short stories. This is my equivalent - in no particular order. Some odds and ends I couldn't let pass without comment.

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New York state's legislators want a pay raise! That's not a joke. Well, the fact they're even considering it is a joke . For a bunch of part-time politicians, who work less than teachers, and earn a base salary of $79,500, they got a heckuva lotta nerve! Mind you, some state pols rake in additional earnings from committee assignments and each receives per diem allotments, not to mention reimbursements for travel expenses to and from Albany back to their districts.

While some legislators actually spend more time performing the job than others, almost all of them have law practices or are engaged in other professions that tend to take precedence - except when they're seriously in session - over their elected responsibility to constituents.

According to The New York Times, New York's legislators rank fourth in pay behind California, Michigan and the District of Columbia. But if anyone ranked them according to the quality of their job performance, it's doubtful they'd place in the top 25, due, in part, to decades of tardy budget passage.

I'd like to see a proposition on the next ballot leaving it up to voters to determine if the state's secretive, hardly-working legislators deserve a pay increase. Anybody want to speculate how lopsided that tally would be? Or pay them a substantial hourly wage with raises tied to increases in the state's minimum wage.

Of course, to get the best and the brightest (OK, that's an exaggeration), assembly members and senators should be paid salaries proportionate to the job and the commitment.

Alas, most legislators in Albany, year after year, seem to set mediocrity as the bar they never seem to surmount.

***

Much like the same-sex marriage amendment, Congress wasted time last week even considering a flag burning amendment. Fortunately, the Senate narrowly rejected it by a slim one-vote margin.

So much for trivial concerns merely intended to distract. They should now return to more vital issues that should be the focus of the fall elections.

The controversial amendment would have voided the 1989 Supreme Court decision that permitted flag burning as an expression of free speech. It is also a form of protest as opposed to the flag burnings in Marine Park a few weeks ago that were presumably an act of mischief by vandals with time on their hands and idiocy on their minds.

Furthermore, if I buy a flag and desecrate it in protest of the war in Iraq, that's my right under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. However, if I burn someone else's flag, that's destruction of private property for which there are local laws covering that sort of misdemeanor.

On the other hand, what about those who burn old, worn flags - like the thousands destroyed annually by the American Legion and the Boy Scouts? The intention may be poles apart, but the results are the same. Would they also be guilty if there was such an amendment?

There are those willing to surrender certain rights in the name of protecting our freedom, but they don't have a right to surrender my rights to burn a symbolic piece of cloth.

Maybe now, once and for all, this burning issue can be laid to rest. Amen!

***

While channel surfing one evening a few weeks back, I stopped at the A&E channel and realized how the dearth of entertainment has made some networks desperate enough to air anything that won't get them fined by the vigilant FCC. A&E, which generally offers more sophisticated programs than most cable fare, was showing an RPS tournament with a $50,000 top prize.

RPS, in case you are among the culturally deficient, is the acronym for Rock, Paper Scissors - the childhood hand-gesturing game where paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beat paper. It was fun to fritter away an hour or so when we were kids, but who'd ever thought it'd evolve into an international competition? Maybe there's an "RPS for Dummies" book, too!

Who knows? This could lead to a whole network solely devoted to the games we played as energetic, innocent youths: May I?, Red Rover, Johnny on the Pony, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Skelly, Hop Scotch and Hide and Seek. (Osama bin Laden plays the latter very well, as he's evaded U.S. troops for nearly five years.)

What's next, the Punch Ball Bowl and All-Star Stoop Ball?

How about rival teams facing off in a heated Ring-a-levio competition?

The game I'd really love to see is Celebrity Twister with cash prizes going to the winners' favorite charity. Can you imagine Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra and other implant-enhanced C-listers' body parts entangled? Now that's Must-See TV fer sure!

But, if you're into less stressful viewing, perhaps you should watch paint dry on the Home and Garden channel.

***

The Unfittest Parents of the Year Award goes to Toni Lynn Carlson and Aaron Virgil Carlson, of Chandler, Arizona. According to a recent AP story, police arrested the mother and father of three for giving marijuana to their 12- and 11-year-old sons - as a reward for good behavior.

The couple was booked on suspicion of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, possessing marijuana for sale, contributing to the delinquency of minors and endangerment. They were taken into custody after detectives, alerted by neighbors, found a quarter-pound of marijuana in their home.

Maybe if the boys got straight A's on their report cards the Carlsons would have given the boys a dose of crack!

Th-th-th-that's all folks!

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