Saturday, August 11, 2018


     American President Harry S. Truman famously said “The buck stops here.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford, however, has done him one better. He’s decided that the buck doesn’t stop with him. It actually starts with him as evidenced by his new “buck-a-beer” initiative slated for implementation in time for the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

     But that’s just the beginning. Rumor has it that Premier Ford has tapped the top minds in his cabinet and plans to extend his “buck-a” thinking throughout the province.

     First up is his new “buck-a-coffee” initiative. Ford has reportedly contacted Tim Horton’s and wants them to bring back coffee pricing from the previous century as in a large cup of coffee for only a dollar. Apparently Starbucks was also contacted but expressed little interest unless the premier was willing to also implement a “five-bucks-a-coffee” program.
     Next up is Ford’s new “buck-a-burger” plan. He’s apparently hoping to convince fast food chains across the province to hearken back to the previous millennium and start offering hamburgers for a dollar a piece. McDonald’s claims they’re already close to that target and would only have to remove one patty in their McDouble to meet it.
     Also in the planning stages is the new “buck-a-liter” program. Ontario’s gasoline stations will be asked to sign on to this new minimum floor pricing. Canada’s oil companies apparently have no problem with this new legislated optional minimum price so long as they never have to meet it.
     Ontario’s smokers will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that Doug Ford is hoping to bring back “buck-a-pack” pricing for cigarettes. “It’s just cruel what folks have to fork out for a deck of smokes these days,” said the premier. “When I was a kid, you could get a whole pack for under a buck.” When asked about possibly implementing a “buck-a-joint” plan for marijuana sales like when he was young, Ford had no comment.
     Looking long term, Premier Ford is hoping to sell off the remaining government-owned shares in Ontario Hydro and let electricity rates be governed by the free market. Eventually, he hopes to convince private power generators to provide “buck-a-kilowatt-hour” which is roughly five times the current peak rate. “That Hydro debt’s not going to retire itself,” Ford reportedly quipped.
     Thinking outside the box has also generated the soon-to-be-popular “three-buck-breakfast” tentatively planned by the Tory government. “Remember back in the good old days when you could get two eggs, bacon, home fries, toast and coffee for $2.99?” said Ford. “Well, that’s something else I’d like to bring back.
     To help pay for his new programs and lost revenues due to planned tax cuts, Premier Ford is looking to pare expenses, especially in the healthcare sector. To that end, he hopes to introduce his new “buck-a-visit” program wherein every visit to a doctor’s office, dentist’s office, hospital, clinic and pharmacy would result in a one-dollar charge. “Think of the millions in revenue that will generate,” said Ford, unmindful of the roughly two-dollar administrative cost entailed in collecting each one-dollar fee.
     Finally, Doug Ford has made it clear that he was never happy with Kathleen Wynne’s rapidly implemented sizable increases to Ontario’s minimum wage. If he has his way, his new “buck-an-hour” initiative will reverse the extra one-dollar increase to $15 an hour scheduled for this coming January. Ford claims there is no truth to the rumor that he initially wanted to use the new “buck-an-hour” plan to reduce Ontario’s minimum wage to that of the good old days of 1963, namely one-dollar an hour. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Constitutional Amendments

    It seemed impossible that Donald Trump could win the Republican presidential nomination and yet he did. Then it seemed impossible that he could win the election but, against all odds, he did.
    And now Trump is running roughshod over the framework and principles of American governance. Clearly some new Constitutional amendments beyond the current 27 are sorely needed. New amendments like the following:
28th Amendment
     No person shall be elected to the office of the President if he (1) fails to reveal his income tax returns for the previous ten years, (2) has never held elected office or a rank in the military at any level or (3) is congenitally incapable of telling the truth.
29th Amendment
     The right of a citizen of the United States to vote shall be subject to the following conditions: (1) obtaining a high school diploma, (2) passing the equivalent of a citizenship test and (3) knowing the difference between true and false.
30th Amendment
     Congress may pass any law it deems necessary to limit campaign financing contributions by individuals, corporations or any other legal entity. Any allowable contribution must be made directly to a candidate and must not be made anonymously. Any 5-4 U. S. Supreme Court decision to the contrary whether having the word Citizens or the word United in its style of cause shall be null and void and of no effect.
31st Amendment
     The right to vote shall not be infringed or restricted by a citizen’s former criminal record, failure to own a photo ID or inability to pay for any such documentation.
32nd Amendment
     Gerrymandering from this point forward is unlawful. The drawing of Congressional district boundaries shall henceforth be left to an impartial neutral commission comprised of five honest citizens having no political party membership or affiliation.
33rd Amendment
     If two or more of a sitting President’s former or current Cabinet members refer to him as a moron, an idiot or an imbecile, that shall be grounds for impeachment.
34th Amendment
     No citizen who has orange hair, orange skin, an elaborate comb-over, an absence of conscience and an overinflated ego shall qualify for the office of President.
35th Amendment
     For the next ten years, no person shall be elected to the office of President who has attained the age of 74 or greater. This amendment automatically expires on January 1, 2029 or the death of the current incumbent whichever comes first.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Invasion From The North

BULLETIN: Invasion Alert
TO:        All Americans
FROM:  U. S. Customs and Border Protection
     Recent attacks by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against President Trump suggest that Canada is now on a wartime footing against our country and that we must remain ever vigilant.  
     President Trump has answered Mr. Trudeau’s incendiary attack with a typically measured response, stating that the Canadian prime minister made “false statements” and calling him “dishonest & weak.” Ordinarily such a response would be enough to silence a weak-willed state like Canada but recent intelligence indicates otherwise.
     It is easy to dismiss such a small player but Americans should be aware that there are methods other than military that Canada can employ. In particular, we must be on guard for an invasion of illegal Canadian immigrants seeking to undermine our nation.
     Thanks to a 4,000-mile undefended and overly porous border, millions of barely-documented Canadians threaten to overrun the United States. Unless we take action now, we risk becoming a minority in our own country.
     Most Americans see little or no evidence of this invasion since they live in areas that so far have been spared an influx of Canadians. However, those living within fifty miles of the border have likely run into more than one of these folks usually while shopping at the local mall.
     Although these Canadian “shoppers” tend to blend in, there are a number of tell-tale signs. During winter months, these folks often wear down vests, oversized boots and knitted hats they call “tuques.” In the summer, they are often spotted sporting Bermuda shorts, socks and sandals.
     Other identifying indicia include attempts at spending their own Monopoly-style currency consisting of different colored bills and large coins called “loonies” and “toonies.” Although many of these folks speak what generally passes for English, their repeated use of the words “eh?” and “sorry” tends to give them away.
     If in doubt, ask the suspected Canadian to spell such words as “honor”, “neighbor” or “color.” Typically, they’ll add the letter “u.” If they’re clever enough to avoid that trap, they’ll more than likely fail the test of identifying the word “check.” If they spell it “cheque”, you’ve caught yourself a Canadian.
     Regrettably, this immigration problem is not restricted to the northern border area. For decades now, and most often from November to April, millions of these folks continue further south bypassing the northern areas and overrunning certain southern states, particularly Florida and Arizona.
     These so called “snowbirds” seem to think that it is their right to take up residence wherever the temperature is above 70 degrees (or 21 degrees Celsius, as they call it). These winter visitors tend to be older and, as with the summertime cross-border shoppers, favor Bermuda shorts, socks and sandals.
     A more recent trend of Canadian immigration is the insidious introduction of their cultural traits into American society. Many of these immigrants speak of such things as “socialized medicine”, “gun control” and “welfare” thereby infecting many Americans with dangerous alien concepts and threatening our cultural institutions and our very way of life.
     Sadly, this Canadian immigration problem only seems to be getting worse. Not only are these people inundating Florida and Arizona, they are now also invading contiguous warm weather states like California, New Mexico, Georgia and the Carolinas. Like any invasive, non-native species which encounters no natural enemies, Canadians will go wherever the sun and discount shopping take them.
     If you spot an unwanted Canadian, alert the authorities but don’t be alarmed. Although they have currently taken great offense to President Trump’s personal attacks, they’re generally inoffensive and mild-mannered so long as you don’t annoy them by pointing out their lack of homegrown success in postseason NHL competition.
     At this point, we don’t think the problem is serious enough to warrant building a northern border wall. But if we start hearing rumblings about making Florida or Arizona Canada’s eleventh province, we may have to revisit the issue.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Donald Trump: Literary Giant

     As we approach the one-and-a-half-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency, undoubtedly commentators will take it upon themselves to assess his performance for the eighteen months ending on July 20th. And, in all likelihood, many of those assessments will not be flattering.
     Yet from where I sit, The Donald has not been an unmitigated disaster. Notwithstanding the numerous racist, sexist and puerile tweets from the Tweeter-in-Chief and the countless dysfunctions emanating from the White House, President Trump should be given credit for his accomplishments.
     First up is his revolutionary communication strategy. Love it or hate it, Trump’s use of Twitter as a means of announcing his administration’s positions, plans and policies has been a huge success.
     Trump has violated just about every traditional political rule of conduct and jettisoned conventional communications strategies. He has fashioned himself into America’s first social media president with an electronic bully pulpit having forty million followers.
     Instead of carefully crafted press releases and intricately massaged messages from the White House press secretary, we now have direct, unfiltered, unedited pronouncements from the President himself. No more inoffensive, non-contentious bureaucratese; now it’s Trump’s stream-of-consciousness 24/7.
     But governance-by-Twitter is not Trump’s only accomplishment. Believe it or not, the President has broken new literary ground both verbally and in written form.
     In this past year alone, the President has expanded the English language beyond even what George W. Bush managed to do in his two terms in office. Thanks to Mr. Trump, we now have such words as “bigly”, “yuge”, “schlonged”, “covfefe” and “euphenism.” Not since Mrs. Malaprop in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals has anyone twisted the English language so frequently and delightfully.
     My favorite accomplishment in this vein is what Los Angeles Times columnist Virginia Heffernan called Trump’s tweet that Steve Bannon “not only lost his job, he lost his mind.” She labeled it “zeugma” which, it turns out, means a modifier used for two words in a different way.
     Who would have thought that Donald Trump would become a presidential linguistic giant? Not only has he “authored” several books, it turns out that he has also broken new presidential ground in the use of literary devices.
     Zeugma is only the latest in the President’s forays into the creative use of language. Think “foreshadowing” as evidenced by Mr. Trump’s favorite response to media questions: “We’ll see. We’ll see.”
     Or what about his carefully crafted euphemisms such as his “bigger button”, “tiny hands”, “drain the swamp” and “locker room talk”? Or his creative insults like “Sad!”, “Pathetic!”, “the failing New York Times” and “fake news”?
     Then there are his endless epithets such as “Little Marco”, “Crooked Hillary”, “Low Energy Jeb”, “Lyin’ Ted”, “Little Rocket Man” and “Sloppy Steve.” And the “millions” of uses of hyperbole like “the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period”, “we’re going to win so much you may even get tired of winning”, “my I. Q. is one of the highest” and “we’re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.”
     Donald Trump’s final and perhaps greatest accomplishment has been the validation of the American myth of the self-made man. As Adlai Stevenson, Jr. once said: “In America, anybody can become President. That’s one of the risks you take.”  For that poor youngster waiting to inherit a million or two from his father or that failing businessman filing for bankruptcy for the third time, thanks to Donald Trump, there is now hope. You may not be able to hang on to your house but not to worry; you’ll still have a shot at the White House.          

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Death Notice for Civility

WASHINGTON, D. C. – July 4, 2018
     The American family is sad to announce the death of Civility. Born in 1776, Civility was present at the country’s founding and was carefully nurtured by her Founding Fathers including George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Her enduring effect can be seen throughout the nation’s founding documents including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
     Over the years, Civility helped a young nation grow and thrive assisted by her siblings Reason and Compromise. Her calming presence allowed for difficult issues to be discussed sensibly often leading to mutually acceptable solutions.
     Hers was not an easy life and, in fact, in the early 1860s, she was hit with a life-threatening ailment called the Civil War. Despite four years of severe illness, Civility persevered and helped oversee the reunification of the nation.
     In every age and era, Civility came under attack from many sides but usually was able to transcend the petty squabbles of the day and overcome many strident differences. Her ever-present equanimity helped defeat historical demons like bigotry, hatred and inequality. She was even able to survive such nasty pestilences as Jim Crow and the KKK.
     It was not advancing years that felled Civility for even at the age of 165 during the early 1940s, she was able to unite the nation in its fight against fascism and tyranny. She became a shining beacon and a glowing example for all citizens of the world.
     It was hoped that Civility could continue to prosper, thrive and grow and thereby spread her good cheer everywhere. However, in recent years, she made fewer and fewer public appearances and was quickly forgotten and ignored.
     The nascence of her fatal illness is hard to identify. Some say it began ten years ago with the advent of the Birther Movement. Others believe her fate was sealed in the presidential campaign of 2016 which was marked by a precipitous increase in name-calling, vitriol and ad hominem attacks. The proliferation of lies, slander and hate-filled invective clearly took a toll on her failing health.
     Much of the blame for Civility’s decline can be placed on one party, possibly even one man. Doctors attending at her deathbed noted multiple wounds and cuts inflicted upon her just within the last two years.
     Civility’s body was riddled with racist sleights, character assassination, gross exaggerations and outright lies. Even when the source of these attacks was identified, they were repeated again and again with few persons intervening to stop them.
     People from all sides pretended to befriend Civility but their actions were often disingenuous or too little, too late. In fact, many people began to engage in uncivil retaliations themselves thereby further endangering the Public Discourse and undermining Civility’s chances for survival.
     On her deathbed, Civility was surrounded by many well wishers but few true supporters. Some paid homage to her achievements but the praise was hollow and ineffective and did little to stem the onrushing tide of boorish attacks.
     Civility was predeceased by Tolerance, Patience and Politeness. She is survived by her ailing mother Democracy who many fear does not have long to live.
     A memorial service for Civility will be held on November 6th. In lieu of flowers or donations, mourners are urged to exercise their franchise.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Associate Justice Trump

     Wishing to facilitate a quick replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Trump took to Twitter today and announced that he would be nominating himself to serve on the U. S. Supreme Court.
     “The Democrats wanted to delay the procedure and make us wait until after the mid-term elections,” said Trump. “But they didn’t count on this brilliant move, did they?”
     Given an opportunity to seal the Court’s rightwing bias, the president wasted no time in naming himself as the new person on the bench, later confirming the announcement tweet at a hastily arranged press conference.
     “Who better to carry out my agenda than me,” Trump said. “After all, I’m the guy who won the last election promising more conservative judges.”
     Dismissing the fact that he is not a lawyer or a judge, the president trumpeted his legal abilities as more than sufficient to qualify him for the highest court in the land.
     “Look,” said Trump. “I have more legal knowledge than half the judges out there. How do you think I’ve been able to get away with not revealing my income tax returns, appointing family members to my Administration and engaging in all manner of conflicts of interest?”
     Some Democrats are confident that the Senate Judiciary Committee will not let Trump’s self-nomination stand but, according to Trump, that seems unlikely.
     “How many senators on that committee?” asked Trump. “21, right? And eleven are Republicans? Believe me, there’s no problem there. Believe me.”
     Questioned about whether he would have time to carry out both his presidential duties and those of an associate justice, Trump assured the assembled press corps that it would not be a problem.
     “I barely spend any time doing presidency stuff as it is,” said Trump. “And if it looks like I need more time to do judgey things, I’ll just cut back on my golf and TV viewing.”

Monday, June 25, 2018

Summer Blockbusters

    Summer is here and that means it’s time for leisurely getaways to the cottage and the beach. And that, of course, means finding the right books to read while relaxing in your hammock or Adirondack chair.
     The latest trend in summer reading is the politician-penned political novel like Bill Clinton’s thriller The President is Missing co-written with actual novelist James Patterson. Other entrants in this new field include:
The Art Of The Steal by Donald Trump and Steve Bannon
     Much to the surprise of many, famed businessman and reality TV star Ronald Drumpf is elected president. Owing nothing to anyone, Drumpf seeks to feather his own nest by inducing foreign dignitaries to stay at his Drumpf-branded hotels and resorts. In an unusual and unexpected plot twist, the new president declares martial law and proclaims himself president-for-life.
Peace For Our Time by Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping
     Loosely based on Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 speech about the Munich Agreement with Adolph Hitler, this political thriller details how North Korean leader Hes Quite Yung plays a feckless U. S. president for a fool. President Dotard returns triumphantly to Washington apparently unaware that he has conceded much in return for a simple hollow promise.
I’m With Stupid by Mike Pence and the Lord
     Crusading Christian Spike Tense makes the penultimate sacrifice and serves as vice president to an out-of-control president thereby keeping him from starting a nuclear war. However, in a cruel twist of fate, when the president is removed from office, Tense takes over and immediately launches nuclear missiles in the Middle East in pursuit of his post-apocalyptic vision. (Sold in a package with the Book of Revelation.)
I’m Also With Stupid by Donald Trump, Jr. with illustrations by Eric
     Two sons of an unexpected president compete for his affections but fail to win his love. Whether it’s shooting big game in Africa or arranging meetings with Russian operatives, Tweedle-Don and Tweedle-Eric consistently annoy their father who is obliged to defend their idiotic escapades.
Not So Sorry, Eh? by Justin Trudeau all by himself
     A little-known Canadian prime minister named Just A. Canuck decides to stand up to a hectoring U. S. president and gains the admiration of many. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Canuck forgets that he’s dealing with the world’s only superpower and eventually must sell off his country’s entire supply of poutine, maple syrup and red serge uniforms to avert complete bankruptcy.
Keep It In Your Pants by Hillary Clinton with an apologia by Bill
      Supremely-qualified Mallory Wonton seeks the highest office in the land but is repeatedly undone by philandering males, first her husband Bubba and then the genitalia-grabbing Fred Frump. Mallory blames her failure on the males in her life including the FBI director and her Democratic opponent Overly Earnest Sanders and not on her decision to forego campaigning in the Rust Belt.
The Russian Candidate by Vladimir Putin and Paul Manafort
     Benevolent despot Vlad the Derailer seeks to tame the American tiger and restore Russian glory. Enlisting an unheeding real estate developer named Urine Trouble, Vlad is able to secure him the presidency and gain his everlasting loyalty due to some shady dealings and a so-called pee-pee tape.
The Elf On The Shelf by Jeff Sessions and Martin Keebler
     A diminutive Alabamian elf is recruited by the president to inconspicuously sit in on meetings and report back to his boss about those who are disloyal. Unfortunately for the elf, he recuses himself from an investigation into possible ties with Russia and earns the wrath of the president. Ultimately, however, the elf redeems himself by doing God’s work by separating children from their parents at the Mexican border.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Well, Pardon Me!

     Traditionally, U. S. presidents exercise their pardoning power judiciously, generally following established protocol, usually doing so near the end of their term and often in accordance with a recommendation from the Office of the Pardon Attorney. 
     President Trump has changed all that, now unilaterally issuing pardons seemingly whenever he feels like it.
     Many have criticized Trump but I think he should be lauded for his generous actions. In the spirit of forgiveness evidenced by the President, I, too, would like to issue my own personal pardons to the following people:
1)  The used car salesman who sold me the 2002 Mazda just before it blew a tie rod through the engine.
2)  The server who gave me two cups of regular coffee for breakfast when I specifically asked for decaf thereby ensuring no afternoon nap that day.
3)  The guy down the street who bought a leaf blower and lends it to everyone on the block.
4)  The woman who cut me off last week before running a red light. (You know who you are!)
5)  My idiot neighbor who mows his lawn at 7 A.M. on Sunday mornings.
6)  The moron who snuck into my parking spot just as I was starting to back up.
7)  The petty bureaucrat at the DMV who let me stand in the wrong line for an hour before telling me to go stand in another hour-long line.
8)  The cable installer who showed up at 4 P.M. after saying that he’d be there between 8 A.M. and noon.
9)  The militant cyclist who sped through the crosswalk causing me to brake so hard I left two strips of rubber on the pavement.
10)  My boss who dumped an urgent file on my desk at 5 P.M. on Friday and said, “Have a nice weekend.”
11)  The guy who hit my parked car leaving $1200 in damage and no note!
12)  The telemarketer who called three times at dinner time to ask me to switch my Internet service provider.
13)  The TV network that switched to regular programming in the middle of the overtime of game seven.
14)  The woman in the eight-items-or-less checkout line who had seventeen items. (I counted!)
15)  The jerk at work who ate the tuna sandwich I left in the fridge with my name on it. (It’s not too late to make amends, Peter.)
          The only pardon I won’t be issuing at this time is to the 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump. I’m just not that magnanimous. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jeff Sessions Strikes Back

     Last week, Attorney General and Chief Elf Jeff Sessions justified the new “zero tolerance” policy regarding immigration at the Mexican border by citing Romans 13 and the Apostle Paul’s command to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purposes of order.  
     Sessions has now decreed that anyone convicted of a crime, charged with a crime or likely to be charged with a crime shall be separated from their children. Sessions cited Matthew 19:14 wherein Jesus said: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me.”
     “As much as I support President Trump,” said the former senator from Alabama. “It is clear to me that I must apply the law fairly, evenly and impartially. Consequently, I am obliged to separate Mr. Trump from his children.”
     While not identifying any crime that the president has been convicted of, Sessions did suggest that the fact that Trump is under investigation by Robert Mueller, is under legal attack from Stormy Daniels and could be indicted on any number of income tax and conflict of interest charges is more than sufficient justification to take his children away from him.
     Rumors abound that federal agents have already removed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner from the White House for their own safety.
      As Ivanka and Jared were being whisked away to an unnamed detention facility, agents were also descending on Trump Tower in Manhattan to rescue both Don, Jr. and Eric. Both sons reportedly fiercely resisted their apprehension but were eventually subdued with Eric’s elephant tranquilizer gun.
     As the two sons were driven to an abandoned Walmart in Westchester County, further unconfirmed reports issued claiming that steps have been taken to remove the children of Trump insiders for their own safety and the safety of the nation. Paul Manafort, Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon were not available for comment although their children appear to be greatly relieved.  
     As for Attorney General Sessions, he has apparently been unable to stop smiling.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My Fifty-dollar Non-disclosure Agreement

     What’s a reasonable amount to buy your silence with a non-disclosure agreement? Is it the $130,000 allegedly paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels? Or maybe it’s the $150,000 doled out to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to shut her up.
     In my case, the price to keep me quiet was less, a lot less, as in fifty dollars. Let me explain.
     My story begins with a Caribbean getaway last March booked through a firm I’ll call Sunwing because that, in fact, is the firm’s name. My wife and I travelled to Cayo Coco in Cuba and were looking forward to a restful, sunny beach holiday. Sadly, that was not to be.
     The trip was not an unmitigated disaster but there were enough shortfalls that we felt that some compensation was owing to us. We stayed in an aging, mold-infested room with peeling paint although, on the bright side, we had hot water, a comfortable bed and a functioning air conditioner.
     The resort was recovering from Hurricane Irma and we therefore made allowances for that. However, Irma did not excuse the sad condition of the resort’s public washrooms or the stagnant, fetid pool outside the main restaurant. Most importantly, we happened to be there when the resort was restoring its beach resulting in murky water and no shade umbrellas or palapas.
      There were other minor irritants but it was the loss of the beach for our one-week stay which we felt deserved some compensation. Not a full refund or anything close to that amount but at least a token ten or twenty percent reduction in the overall cost of our package.
     So once we got back home, I took computer keyboard in hand and wrote the tour operator, outlined the problems we encountered and requested some money back. Not surprisingly, the operator blamed everything on the resort and said it wasn’t responsible for its shortcomings.
     I persisted in my complaint and was ultimately successful in getting Sunwing to agree to have the resort compensate us fifty dollars for our troubles. And that was no ordinary fifty dollars; it was $50 US or approximately $65 Canadian.
     At that point, I figured why not take the token offering and be done with it. After all, it was clear that unless I was willing to go to the trouble of filing a small claims court action, I wasn’t likely going to squeeze any more blood out of this particular stone.
     So I printed off the form Sunwing required me to sign in order to access the wealth on offer. What I was asked to sign, however, looked to be drafted by an understudy of Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen.
     The payment would not be an admission of liability by Sunwing and the resort. Fair enough. And the fifty dollars would be a final settlement of any claims I might have had. Also fine by me.
     What rankled, however, was the final paragraph which was essentially a hush agreement and a non-disclosure agreement rolled into one. If I signed, I would be prohibited from “directly or indirectly” talking about our negative experience “to anyone in any way.”
     The terms of the settlement would be confidential and we would agree that our intention would be to “avoid and prevent publicity regarding the settlement.” Finally, if I breached the terms, I agreed that such breach would cause “unquantifiable damages” to the tour operator and the resort.
     As I had already directly informed a number of friends and relatives about our “negative experience” and indirectly informed many more people in a published opinion piece, I couldn’t, in all good conscience, agree to the onerous terms on offer. More importantly, it seemed totally unfair and completely over the top to muzzle me forever for the grand total of fifty dollars even if it was in American currency.
     So I told Sunwing to take a hike and keep their fifty dollars. It turns out that it’s worth a whole lot more to me to preserve my freedom of speech. It’s also far more satisfying to vent than to dream about how I might have spent that giant payout.
     If a six-figure settlement had been on offer like those available to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, I can’t claim that I would have taken the high road. But I do know that my principles are worth something more than fifty bucks.