Last Sunday I was taking my visiting three year old grand-daughter whom I will call "E, and her chocolate Labrador retriever Sam to Central Park. "E" (I don't believe in giving out children's names but have no such discretion towards dogs). With her great smile, dimpled chin, blond curls and movie star insouciance E would make Shirley Temple in "Bright Eyes" look like a stand in for Lassie. E, being a country child on a visit to the city, I explained to her the traffic rules in street crossing in New York City: i.e. the little white lights on the walking man mean we can cross, the red hand means stop.
We were standing on Park Avenue when the light changed in our favor and as we started to cross the street towards the park, a white Cadillac with (God help us) Jersey plates turned the corner and instead of stopping to let us cross in safety, he kept coming towards us, no doubt texting as he drove. I turned to face the driver who was still moving and shouted in my angry stentorian grandfather voice, "Stop! Idiot." To E's amazement the car stopped. When we crossed to the other side of Park Avenue E continued to look at me with the wonder reserved for a mythical Roman god who can bring on storms or stop mere mortals in their tracks. And since there seemed to be such power in the words -- and E is the kind of toddler who tries out the world and the word whenever she can -- just as a couple came strolling towards us E shouted "Stop! Idiot." They laughed. She tried it out on another couple. They were not amused. I cautioned her that those words were best reserved for cars, not people. We proceeded to the park and had a great afternoon watching the sailboats in the pond. But it struck me that if I had the power to stop that car with these words, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could do so with others who were either life-threatening or just plain annoying? Here's my top twelve list.
1. Donald Trump. Your birther nuttiness against President Obama has turned you from an irritating overweight comb-over with a fat wallet and a bad TV show into a racist clown. With Rick Perry as your parrot, I can only put you on top of my list although I hate to dignify you in this way. Also my apologies to all parrots particularly the intelligent gray ones for comparing them to Perry.
2. David Brooks. You write such mealy mouthed, afraid to be too far right drivel in the New York Times that I wonder if you are now on conservative auto-drive - in giving the kind of advice to President Obama to pull back on all social and economic legislation, and cautioning him against speaking out against the iniquities in our society - advice that if followed would surely lose the next election for him.
3. The proponents of all books and films that claim that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare's plays. It is ludicrous snobbery to believe that a man who comes from the people could not write about princes and kings. We all share the human condition -- and the human imagination exceeds class and education -- so get over it.
4. All those in Congress who want to defund NPR and PBS. These two are all that remains of America's little red schoolhouse -- the last bastions of free education and intelligent entertainment on TV.
5. All women who are walking the cracked pavements of Manhattan in 6-9 inch high heels. What has happened to feminism that allows sentient, adult women to court a future life of broken legs and bunion surgery?
6. Those who believed that releasing the tapes of Jacqueline Kennedy enhanced her reputation posthumously. Her remarks about MLK were vicious -- and perhaps her memory was best served by keeping them on the shelf for another hundred years. If you have more of the same to be released, don't.
7. Netflix. I know I am joining the choir here, but the idea of forcing me into having two accounts, the DVD and the Streaming Video was so bad that it was suicidal, though you have repented I cannot trust you not to come up with another notion that is equally awful. So before you do -- don't.
8. Those New Yorkers who not only use their cell phones on buses so that the world is privy to the most boring conversations in the history of Western Civilization but unwrap their sandwiches and begin to devour them publically. Eating on public transport has replaced spitting on it as the new no no.
9. Those who refuse to accept the reality of global warming. Guys, gals, it's here -- it's real -- and your kids and grandkids are going to be the true inheritors of the foul air and the sunken cities. You are guaranteeing a dystopia if you don't join in the search for a safe replacement for fossil fuels.
10. That much courted independent voter who believes that in voting for any of the Republican clowns we saw in those debates that you are sending a message of change to Washington. Yes, Obama has failed to dig us out of the mess we are in, and to an old liberal like me he is a dire disappointment, but these Republican candidates are the people who brought on the mess - the deregulation gurus who believe in bundles for billionaires and found it more important to destroy Obama than rebuild America. Mitt Romney is not the "safe" department store mannequin with moderate policies you think he is. He is not the self-proclaimed business genius who will recreate the American economy. His business history is that of losing jobs through buyouts not creating jobs. His ambition is only exceeded by his hypocrisy. Unless you are one of those billionaires you are guaranteeing a dismal future for your children and theirs if you vote for a change in the occupant of the White House. Better to keep that occupant and press for a change in his policies.
11. Those, including our President who believe in the fairy tale story of clean, safe, atomic power. If Russia and Japan have not been a sufficient warning of what is to come from allegedly safe, clean atomic power, then I can't imagine what you need to convince you of the dangers that more atomic plants represent to all of us in this country.
12. Those educators who still believe that standardized tests will improve the quality of education in this country. And anyone who believes that they can replace good human teachers with testing and computers. Every city and town that has reduced the number of its teachers in this time of economic hardship, and reduced the police and fire-fighters -- not only are you creating more economic hardship by adding to the unemployed and the underwater but you are putting the future of the young and the safety of all of us in jeopardy.
So to all the above and anyone you would like to add to this list, please join me in the shout of STOP! IDIOT!