Wringing Out the Old Year

It’s time again to ring in the new year and wring out the old.

No, I’m not late, and I’ll tell you why. It started with the president promising me, “If you like your old year, you can keep it.”

(And then, oddly, he said, “Period.” That’s right: In reading his teleprompter, he read aloud the period. But not the comma.)

Later he changed his mind about keeping my old year, but his change of mind was for my own good. He explained that my old year was “substandard.” “Bare bones,” he said. He told me it was a “bad apple.” Not just for him, he said, but for me, too. So he mandated a new year for me.

The new one comes with free maternity coverage in case I want to become a mother and free contraception in case I don’t. It costs 40 percent more, but hey, good free stuff costs good money, right?

Back to the timeliness of my column. I generously gave money to the Obama re-election campaign, and coincidentally, he generously gave me an extension on my new year. Under the extension he gave me, my new year starts after the 2014 elections in November. So this column is not three weeks late but 11 months early, thank you very much.

Speaking of extensions in the old year, the Syrian dictator was reducing to bare bones thousands of the people to whom he dictates. Obama drew a (drum roll) “red line” warning him not to do so with chemical weapons. The dictator thinks of himself as a dictator, not a dictated, and so he proceeded to do precisely that. Obama gave him an extension (or perhaps erasure) of the red line.

In Russia — formerly known as the “Workers’ Paradise” and now known as a festering sore of corruption, alcohol and crime with 7,000 nuclear warheads for sale, use or rent — they granted asylum to an American who’d spilled secrets about Obama spying on America’s enemies, America’s friends and America’s Americans.

Down in Antarctica, some global-warming types were spending government grants to document the disappearance of sea ice until their ship became icebound in the disappearing sea ice. If we’re lucky, in the new year they’ll visit the Arctic to document the disappearing polar bears.

In the “Francisco Franco is still dead” category, this is just in from the Caribbean: Gitmo is still open for business. As open as a prison gets, anyway. Congress allowed the federal government to “shut down” by failing to agree on budget matters. Not much changed, except federal employees got paid for not working at home rather than not working at work. Not to be outdone by their federal counterparts, state “workers” diligently and effectively “worked” to shut down a bridge in New Jersey to punish a political opponent and carefully documented their “work” in emails to one another. Their boss, named after his favorite food, Krispy Kreme, or whatever, complained that it was “embarrassing.”

Obama spent taxpayer money during the budget “shutdown” to defend the outdoor World War II Memorial against veterans who’d traveled across the country to honor it. So the elderly veterans stormed the memorial, as they had stormed Normandy 60 years ago. Same men, same result: They won.

Closer to home, you can now get married if you’re gay, and it doesn’t have to be to someone of the opposite sex. (Now that’s a “man date” we can all get behind.) But it still has to be to someone, not some 12 (like the Broncos cheerleading squad). And to someone, not something (like a Krispy Kreme doughnut).

Here in the ’hood, we managed to ring in the new mayor who’s the same as the old mayor whom we managed to wring out, but without the snarl. It’s a step.

The Aspen City Council’s affordable restaurant business could give you a tummy ache. Recall that a couple of years ago they mandated that a building owner lease out his basement for a restaurant — with prices that the council could mandate.

In this column last year, we had a contest to name the government-mandated restaurant and its menu. The winning name from reader Paul Mentor was “Castro’s Corner,” and the winning menu item from reader Maurice Emmer was “Pol Pot Pie.” (The president did not submit “Bad Apples,” but it would have won if he had, I promise.)

Even with those terrific trademarks, no restaurateur is interested in disgorging big bucks for a restaurant where his profits are sliced and diced by City Hall. So the space is still unreserved.

An unopened restaurant offends the council as much as a profitable one, so the council is considering taking its pricing mandate off the menu. But some of its members want to impose substitute mandates on the owner or make him pay a big tip for the privilege of the council correcting its own mistake.

Hearing that made me throw up in my mouth a little. Yep, it’s Pol Pot Pie.

Originally published in The Aspen Times at http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/9774795-113/council-obama-restaurant-column

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