I have long believed that reading the news while eating breakfast is a horrendous way to start my day, as inevitably the news is chock full of stories that infuriate me. However, I can't stop myself from reading "The New York Times" for a few minutes while gulping down my eggs. (At least today I waited to read it while gulping down a sausage and cheese sandwich for lunch.) What's got me in a tizzy now? 1. Yesterday The Times ran a story about billionaire Joe Ricketts and his semi-scuttled plans to unseat Obama by running racist ads on TV. Why does Ricketts want Obama gone? Because Ricketts believes that we have too much public spending and that Obama is the cause of this largess.

Fine. Except that Ricketts's family is the owner of the Cubs, formerly a team I rooted for in a pathetic die hard way, even though every damn year they broke my heart and I swore that I would not be sucked in for another round of torture, only to give in and be betrayed yet again.* Fine. Except that Ricketts's family is requested that the overburdened taxpayers of Chicago and Illinois hand over $300 million in public funds so that they can renovate their privately-owned stadium at absolutely no benefit at all to the same people paying for the renovations. Not one serious economic study of public financing of stadiums has ever found that the taxpayers and public receive a return on their investments.

So, Ricketts loves public spending when it benefits him directly (and maybe even indirectly - I suspect that he uses garbage pick up services, roads, employees educated by public schools, and other amenities that most of us share that we collectively pay), but he hates it when we use funds so that people have decent places to live, food to eat, and other basic necessities. Typical Republican.

2. The town of Palisade Park, NJ, which has a significant Korean-American population, installed a small memorial to the"comfort women" who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan during WWII. Recent;y, representatives of the Japanese government asked them to remove the memorial. It is currently the only memorial to comfort women in the US. They are apparently offended when people are able to learn about historic wrongs their government committed. You see, the government of Japan officially apologized the victims and even set up a privately-financed restitution fund, so why ever mention it again?

How sickening. Can you imagine if Germany tried a stunt like that? German taxpayers fund hundreds of millions of dollars every year in restitution and social service programs for Jewish Nazi victims. There are Holocaust memorials all over the world, and the German government itself has built dozens of memorials reminding people of the atrocities committed by their government in the 1930s and 1940s.

I guess the Japanese government would like the chance for history to repeat itself, for the less we know and understand about our past, the less we can do to advance ourselves as a people. Or maybe, like Joe Ricketts seems to believe, only some people count.

*Complete side note: I am convinced that a Cubs World Series victory is the fourth sign of the apocalypse. If they should win in October 2012, I guarantee that the Mayan prophesy that the world will end on Dec. 21 is going to come to fruition. In that case, I will quit whatever I am doing and travel and have lots of fun. But I digress.

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