Monday, January 30, 2006

No Rest for the Weary

I'm tired and kinda cranky today, so I don't know what to write about this afternoon. Maybe I'll have more to say later this evening.

Granted, I had a pretty fun night Saturday but, although I woke up close to noon, I woke up still dead-tired. I went to bed last night at a fairly decent hour and woke up this morning dead-tired as well. I don't know what it is. I fall asleep just fine, and I sleep straight through the night. But I can't seem to get a restful night's sleep. Maybe tonight will be different.

Zachary with no sleep is not a pretty sight. And it didn't help that I had a four year old girl flirting with me at work. No, not fourteen, not forty. Four. It's a long story and it was incredibly awkward. Ugh.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Polls, Polls, Everywhere

Polling numbers always get a warm reception here on this blog, but I like them. They give, far and wide, a general idea of the feelings and worries of the American people. Representative David Dreier, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Rules Committee, said recently, "People look at public opinion polls, and members of Congress are no exception." What's good for the members of Congress is surely good enough for me!

Bush's bottom-line job rating, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, -- 42 percent of Americans approve of his work, 56 percent disapprove -- is the worst for a president entering his sixth year in office since Watergate hammered Richard Nixon. The bad news doesn't end there.
On Iraq, 55 percent say the war was not worth fighting and 60 percent disapprove of how Bush is handling it. On the deficit, 64 percent disapprove of his work; on health care 60 percent; on immigration 57 percent; on ethics 56 percent. Six in 10 say the economy's hurting. Six in 10 don't think Bush understands their problems. Fifty-three percent don't see him as honest and trustworthy.
The Democrats lead Republicans by 14 points, 51 to 37 percent, in trust to handle the nation's main problems, the first Democratic majority on this question since 1992. And the Democrats hold a 16-point lead in 2006 congressional election preferences, 54 to 38 percent among registered voters, their best since 1984. Independents prefer the Democrats' direction over Bush's by 51 to 27 percent, and favor the Democrat over the Republican in congressional races by 54 to 31 percent (the latter result is among independents who're registered to vote.). Democrats also lead by 16 points as the party with "better ideas." And they've held or improved their advantage over the Republicans in public trust to handle issues as disparate as the economy (now an 18-point Democratic lead), Iraq and lobbying reform.

The recent Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll shows that three out of five Americans say America is seriously off course, and by 62 to 31 percent those surveyed want to move in a different direction than the one Bush has set forth. The ABC/WaPo poll shows Americans -- by a 16-point margin, 51 to 35 percent -- now say specifically that the country should go in the direction in which the Democrats want to lead, rather than follow Bush. That's a 10-point drop for the president from a year ago, and the Democrats' first head-to-head majority of his presidency.

According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, investigations into Congressional corruption are taking a toll as the elections approach: 61 percent of Americans now hold an unfavorable view of Congress, the highest in 10 years.

The ABC/WaPo poll also found that 76 percent of Americans said Bush should release lists of all meetings between aides and Abramoff. It's an overwhelming sentiment being mimicked by Republican lawmakers, as well.

There's a lot of time between now and November. But if this trend keeps up, Democrats may just get a silver-lining at the end of this disasterous and embarrassing storm. Whether or not they deserve it is a point for another post, but they may just get it.

Karaoke Fun

Wow. Last night was fun.

I went to a bar with a large group of friends where I got just drunk enough to sing karaoke. And I must admit, I was damned good. I was good not really because I can sing (I can't) or because I have an awesome range (I do not). I was good because I chose really great songs and belted them out like a champ.

Where else can my gift of knowing all the words to Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot be put to better use than a bar on karaoke night? Seriously now. I even got some high-fives as I made my way back to my seat. Good times!

Then, as the night continued and more drinks were drunk, I did an encore. Yes, this homebody followed up Baby Got Back with Kiss by Prince. Among my friends, it's my signature piece and I believe I did it justice.

And then just as we were leaving, some guy came up to my friend Lauren and told her that while I might be the whitest guy in the bar, he had never heard anyone sing Baby Got Back with such feeling before. Needless to say, I woke up very happy this morning. Well, noonish.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Branching Out

With the exception of the joking New Year resolution back a few weeks ago, I never posted what I want to change with myself and my life for the new year. Truth be told, I never really gave it much thought. I've never been one for New Year resolutions. There's that awful stigma attached to them because so many millions make them and so many millions break them each year. Why would I want to be one of them? Why would I set myself up for failure.

You're reading a post from the guy who can't even keep himself straight during Lent. No pun intended. Granted, I'm not Catholic so my Lent experience isn't as rigorous, although I do love fish and take any chance I get to partake in the Friday night fish fries around my area. But the first and only time I ever seriously gave up anything for Lent was in high school when I gave up red meat after watching a documentary on a slaughterhouse. I didn't eat a big, fat steak until three years later.

But this year is a bit different. I knew I couldn't be like Ruben and give up my coffee in the morning. That takes bigger cajones than I've got. I needed something that I could stick to. Something that -- at the end of the year -- I will have been made a better person because of it. I think I found it.

I want to be better-versed in different kinds of music. Anyone who reads my random ten songs every week have some glimpse into my music taste. While it's diverse, it's by no means far-reaching. I know very little about jazz, about the blues, about R&B, about many things classical. I know what I like and I listen to what I like over and over again. I rarely ever listen to the radio or watch any of the music channels so it's as if I live in my little bubble where I'm content. Correction: I was content.

This year of Mozart's 250th birthday, we should all look at hundreds, if not thousands, of songs we're missing just because we don't think we'd like them. I learned very quickly the past few months that previous thoughts were disappointing misconceptions. If you have any suggestions on songs or albums to download, please let me know.

Friday Random 10

It's Friday. (Yay!) You know what that means. The rules: Take out your iPod or other musical device. Put it in "random" mode. Hit "play." Write down the first ten tracks that come up -- and no fair putting in ones you think will make you look cool, or omitting ones that make you look like a total dork.

1. Basket Case (Green Day, Dookie)
2. My Doorbell (White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan)
3. Blow Out (Radiohead, Pablo Honey)
4. Babylon (David Gray, White Ladder)
5. Born Too Late (The Clarks, Let It Go)
6. Teach Your Children (CSNY, So Far)
7. Can't Get You Outta My Head (Kylie Minogue, Fever)
8. Patience (Guns N Roses, Lies)
9. Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey, Daydream)
10. Rock Your Body (Justin Timberlake, Justified)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sillies

Out of the wreckage that is the recent Hamas victory of the ruling, moderate Fatah Party, I believe that Americans can learn an important lesson. No matter how much you dislike each other, throwing stones at one another makes both of you look like noobs.
The two camps threw stones at each other, breaking windows in the building, as Fatah supporters briefly tried to lower the green Hamas banners.

Boom Boom Goes the Man

The first great he said, she said of the new year. In one corner, we have an unreleased study conducted for the Pentagon and a top U.S. general in Iraq. In the other corner we have, well -- Donald Rumsfeld.

Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who wrote the report under a Pentagon contract, concluded that the Army cannot sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. He also suggested that the Pentagon's decision, announced in December, to begin reducing the force in Iraq this year was driven in part by a realization that the Army was overextended. Gen. George Casey told reporters on Thursday that American forces in this country are "stretched."

Donald Rumsfeld says nuh-uh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Patriot Rick

In Pennsylvania we have a state-wide equivalent of the village idiot. His name is Rick Santorum. Among his more annoying attributes is his uncanny ability to say things so incredibly off-the-wall that they don't usually warrant a response. So instead of responding to his recent idiotic turn of phrase, I will simply republish what he said.
Santorum: "And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what's at stake. They're willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country. What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country?"
It should be said, however, that he is not talking about the ubiquitous Support Our Troops yellow ribbon bumper stickers. He's talking about Rick Santorum bumper stickers.. for his reelection campaign.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bring It On Home

Now that Canada has ousted its former government and put in place a more conservative* one, I suggest to the new Prime Minister Stephen Harper that he create a new government agency in charge of redefining what it is to be Canadian. Jokes about Canadians run as wild and carefree in America as Republicans on lobbyist-paid vacations. This new Department of Coolness, Eh? can spruce up public relations and bring our two countries closer together, dispelling misconceptions and stereotypes. I nominate Sue Johanson to head the agency.

* Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper "said his new government -- not likely to be sworn in for several weeks -- would immediately ... begin to allocate $1,042 to Canadian families for each child they have needing daycare." How conservative?

Dear Jesus



Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Kanye West be thy name.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Send in the Clowns

NBC is in the crapper, so what does it do? It brings back Friends, of course! A cool $5 million a piece sure doesn't seem too much to shell out when your ratings future is on the line.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Huzzah!

PITTSBURGH's
Going to the Super Bowl

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thoughts on Wiretapping

I love reading letters. Be it letters from friends, letters to the editor in the local newspaper, or letters in support of or against certain articles in my magazine subscriptions, they're always the first thing I read. Last night after an undrinking night at the bar with some friends, I meandered home and hung out until I felt like sleeping. Granted, it was three o'clock in the morning and by all accounts I had a long day and should be exhausted, but I just wasn't all that tired.

I opened up the current issue of Newsweek (mmm, Bode Miller!) and started reading what people had to say about last week's piece on presidential powers and the abuse that can come with it. A few readers attempted to justify the president's assertion that desperate times call for desperate measures and that we are, in fact, in a state of war. Angela Hobson of Newport News, VA writes,
I applaud the proactive nature of our president. If my neighbors or coworkers are calling or receiving international calls from al Qaeda or other groups that want to harm us, I endorse our government's efforts to protect us in the manner it chooses.
I can relate with Ms. Hobson's feelings. Sure, who couldn't? We all want to be safe and it is human nature to want to feel security in troubling times. After 9/11 President Bush stood on top of the rubble, took out his bullhorn, and told the world that Americans are united and that people hell-bent on destroying us will falter. His words of comfort and resolve were exactly what the doctor ordered; Bush's approval rating went through the roof and Americans were brought together.

In sharp contrast, after Hurrican Katrina there was no such words of comfort. Neither the president nor the governor of Louisiana showed up anywhere near the wreckage -- at least from what I saw from the media -- and comforted the masses. I don't mean to say that there wasn't a great outpouring of volunteerism, prayer and monetary support, but the great command structure of post-9/11 New York City was missing where it could have been found. Instead, we saw a president and a governor pointing fingers.

Americans like to feel like someone is in charge, someone is watching out over them. Unfortunately, believing that by listening to telephone conversations the federal government is able to keep us safe is majorly wrong. Not only is it, by the very definition of the word, an infringment of civil liberties by undermining the Constitution of the United States -- no matter how good the intention -- but the rationale given by the president as to how it works makes no sense. Erik Moeser of Menomonkee Falls, WIS says,
In several recent speeches, George W. Bush has tried valiantly to convince us that he should have the power, without a warrant, to wiretap (spy on) persons with "known links" to al Qaeda. The part I don't get is, if they are actually "known," why doesn't he also just go and round them up?
Another problem I have with Ms. Hobson's assertion of governmental supremecy is that it goes against the American concept of having the benefit of the doubt. Americans are innocent until proven guilty. A wiretap on any given American -- without any court order or supervision -- is expressly against this basic tenet of the very democracy we are exporting to the Middle East. James M. DeMast feels the same way, writing,
Isn't life full of irony? President Bush implored that we not cede to the terrorists, that we were not to change our way of life and what we stand for. Since that time, however, we have attacked a sovereign nation unprovoked (a first in our history), kidnapped individuals in foreign countries and transported them to secret bases, tortured prisoners and spied on American citizens.
That these charges of an imperial presidency are directed toward a conservative administration is rather morbidly funny. Out the window goes the mantra of "smaller government" even as several historically small-government, anti-tax groups provide undying, blindly loyal support and praise to the largest federal government in the nation's history. Dan Thompson of Union, ORE asks of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, "...would you support the same powers and secrecy that you claim are legitimate for you if your opposition controlled the levers of government as you and your party now do?" The answer is, of course, no. Anyone who thinks otherwise is wildly mistaken.

And one last problem I have with Ms. Hobson's letter: When/where will it end? We are stuck in the War in Iraq and forever surrounded by the War on Terror. The basic problem with each of these wars is that there is no clear cut way to know they've ended. The latter even more so than the former, there is no guideline to say, "Hey, war is over. Happy Christmas."

I've said before that the War in Iraq feels so overwhelming to Americans because there's nothing to use as a reference point. Tomorrow my Steelers are playing the Broncos so I'll use football to show my point. Each time the team takes the field, they make a drive to the end zone. Four plays, lots of tackles, many setbacks, fewer gains, but what the end result looks like is always the same. People watching football, even the football players themselves, know when they're nearing the goal. The same can't be said for either of these wars. In fact, is the War in Afghanistan over? How do we know?

For the sake of argument, let's say the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are over. What about the War on Terror? Terror, by its defition, means "Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes." But what does that mean? It's all about perspective. It's like asking, as Flamingo Jones did a few weeks ago, What is Justice? Its definition is different to everyone, just as the definition of terror or even terrorism is different to everyone. What's terrorism to one person is nation-building on the other side of the world. What's terrorism to one person is a psychotic attempt to spread hatred around the world to another. I don't wish to touch upon the reasons for invading Iraq or even the moral aspects but would rather want to guage where we are now.

There has always been terror in the world and there will always be terror in the world. No amount of military might, diplomatic savvy or sheer luck is going to destroy it. We're kidding ourselves and setting ourselves up for failure when we don't acheive it. Instead, we should be looking at alternatives to combatting this new evil from the way we've thought in the past. The post-9/11 world demands new innovations. Until we take that seriously, when do we know the war is over? And if the war is never over, when do we know it's time to reclaim our civil liberties?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Friday Random 10

Because I have kickass taste in music, I decided to do my random ten tonight instead of waiting for tomorrow and to post fifteen random songs instead of the standard ten. I'm kicking it up a notch. I can change flat tires and I have excellent taste in music. I don't work tomorrow and so it's the freaking weekend, bitches. Hell yeah.

It's Friday. (Just go with it.) You know what that means. The rules: Take out your iPod or other musical device. Put it in "random" mode. Hit "play." Write down the first ten tracks that come up -- and no fair putting in ones you think will make you look cool, or omitting ones that make you look like a total dork.

1. Whiskey Lullaby (Brad Paisley, Mud on the Tires)
2. Seven Nation Army (White Stripes, Elephant)
3. Chariot (Gavin DeGraw, Chariot -- Stripped)
4. Til I Hear It From You (Gin Blossoms, Empire Records soundtrack)
5. Sweet Girl (Fleetwood Mac, The Dance)
6. She Really Wants You (Aimee Mann, The Forgotten Arm acoustic)
7. Could We (Cat Power, The Greatest)
8. Canadian Song (Matt Pond PA, The Green Fury)
9. Somebody Told Me (The Killers, Hot Fuss)
10. Not the Doctor (Alania Morissette, Jagged Little Pill)
11. Sex and Candy (Marcy Playground, Marcy Playground)
12. Waitin' for a Superman (Iron & Wine, Yeti)
13. The Way You Move (Big Boi, Speakerboxxx)
14. School's Out (Alice Cooper, Dazed & Confused soundtrack)
15. Addicted (Simple Plan, No Pads, No Helmuts, Just Balls)

How Telling

Literary

The Senate may be the place for some former first ladies, but President Bush on Thursday categorically ruled out a run for office by his wife, Laura Bush.

"She's not interested in running for office. She's interested in literacy," Bush said during an appearance at JK Moving & Storage here.
And sooner or later she'll succeed in teaching him how to read like all the other boys and girls! Hey, there've been forty-three presidents and the United States' literacy rate is 97 percent. You do the math. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Changing of the Tires

Today I did the unthinkable. Today I did what no man should ever have to do. Today I proved myself worthy of all that I possess.

Today I changed a flat tire. No, not just any flat tire -- my own flat tire. Being the only one home, I had to pick my sister up from a friend's house in town. I was approximately a half-mile away when I felt the car starting to drift to the left and heard it make a funny "klump-klump" sound. Never having had a flat tire before, I didn't have any sort of experience to determine exactly what the problem could be but I did have the frame of mind to pull over and not risk anything. I had a tiny inkling that it was a flat tire -- using my deductive reasoning -- so I immediately had terrifying images of sparks spraying from the tire-rim into my gas tank and the fireworks that would ensue.

I parked the car in the nearest parking lot. It was the front, driver's-side tire. Being a man and all, I called my parents but nobody answered. I then tried my other sister. She didn't answer. I was all alone in the average-sized town of [blacked out for security purposes] without help or a clue.

Okay, I probably should explain now that today was cold. No, not just kinda cold. It was damned cold. Ten degrees and dropping is not cool, nor is wind so chilling and violent that you feel nauseous in your stomach.

I ended up getting in contact with my father, who did come to my rescue. Of course, by the time this rescue happened, I had already opened the truck, got the car-jack out, soiled myself (with the gunk used to lubricate said car-jack), jacked up the car, removed the hubcap, loosened the lug nuts, removed the deflated tire and lifted the spare donut from the trunk. Not bad for someone who never paid attention in Highway Safety class. (Two speeding tickets later.. but none in the past three years! [Knock on wood.])

So tonight I'm a man. I'm a man's man who knows that when the going gets tough, the tough call for help and then do their best until it arrives!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Polling Around Town

Just in case you believe in polling data and all that jazz, you could very well be shocked to find out that in a recent poll of 560 registered voters conducted for the Houston Chronicle, barely one of every five of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's constituents would vote for him if the election were held now. In fact, Democratic rival and former congressman Nick Lampson's number is eight percentage points higher than DeLay's. But you can make of it what you will.

Vampires Run Too

If you live in Minnesota you may be looking at your next governor. From the state that brought us the governorship of Jesse "The Body" Ventura, we now have Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey on the ticket of the Vampyres, Witches and Pagans Party. Sharkey, a self-proclaimed vampire, planned to announce his candidacy on Friday -- the 13th.

Of his religion, Sharkey told Reuters, "I'm a satanist who doesn't hate Jesus. I just hate God the Father." He went on to pledge in the interview to execute convicted murders and child molesters personally by impaling them on a wooden pole outside the state capitol. It sounds like a winning platform to me.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Happy New Year

...or something like that. According to Eastern Orthodoxy and the Julian calendar today marks the beginning of a new year.

Also according to Eastern Orthodoxy, today is the day of St. Basil the Great and the lesser known, slightly miffed Sts. Parsley the Lesser, Sage the Better, Rosemary the Faint-Hearted and Thyme the Chicken Herb.

Flashbacks

Today in History

Today in 1514 Pope Leo X issues a papal bull against slavery. In 1690 the clarinet is invented in Nuremberg, Germany. Its cousin, the skin flute, had been played for decades prior. In 1943 Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes the first President of the United States to travel via airplane while in office (Miami, Florida to Morocco to meet with Winston Churchill to discuss World War II). And in 2000 the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record high of 11,722.98.

Today is Jason Bateman's birthday (37) -- may God watch over his television show. LL Cool J is 38 today. Shepard Smith is 42.

Five Things

... I Learned from Hostel

1. Softcore porn can be nationally screened without much backlash.
2. Saying "fag" over and over doesn't lessen its disgustingness.
3. If someone drops a business card in a public toilet stall, don't pick it up.
4. Bitches always get their comeuppance.
5. Jay Hernandez is very sexy, and his lips are distracting.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday Random 10

It's Friday. (It really, really is!) You know what that means. The rules: Take out your iPod or other musical device. Put it in "random" mode. Hit "play." Write down the first ten tracks that come up -- and no fair putting in ones you think will make you look cool, or omitting ones that make you look like a total dork.

1. We Can Work It Out (Heather Nova, I Am Sam soundtrack)
2. Trains (Ryan Adams, Jacksonville City Lights)
3. Lovefool (The Cadigans, First Band on the Moon)
4. Singular Girl (Rhett, The Believer)
5. You Only Live Once (The Strokes, Mix CD)
6. I Don't Want To Wait (Paula Cole, This Fire)
7. Clumsy (Our Lady Peace, Clumsy)
8. Such Great Heights (The Postal Service, Give Up)
9. Give It Away (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik)
10. Life is a Song (Patrick Park, Mix CD)

Flashbacks

Today in History

Today in 1559 Elizabeth I is crowned queen of England in Westminster Abbey. In 1930 the Mickey Mouse comic strip makes its first appearance. And in 2002, US President George W. Bush faints after choking on a pretzel.

Rip Taylor is 72 today, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 45 and Orlando Bloom is 29.

Oh, and for the Ultimate dorks out there, Wham-O Company produced the first Frisbee today in 1955.

All In a Day's Work


"And if you talk outta line again, I'll show you my other gun, bitch."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Silly Patty

Last year on August 22, Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezualan president Hugo Chavez and was later shunned into apologizing for his numb-skull rant. Then this year on the fifth, he blamed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke on his policy of "dividing God's land" and was later shunned into apologizing. When will he learn that he's an idiot?

When The Conservative Voice starts calling for your retirement, you know you've outstayed your welcome. Good night, Mr. Robertson.

Update: Israel to Robertson: Get Bent

Flashbacks

Today in History

Today in 1915 the United States House of Representatives rejects a proposal to give women the right to vote. In 1932 Hattie W. Caraway becomes the first woman elected to the United States Senate. She was, of course, a Democrat. There are currently fourteen women senators in the 109th Congress; nine are Democrat. And women are allowed to vote.

In 1966 Batman the TV series debuts on ABC, and in 1971 All in the Family debuts on CBS.

Kirstie Alley and Rush Limbaugh are 55 today, Howard Stern is 52 and Rob Zombie is 40. And now you're up to date.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Down Home

Pennsylvania in 2006 is the place to be! We have Bob Casey going head-to-head with putz Rick Santorum and Gov. Ed Rendell going head-to-head with.. former Steelers star Lynn Swann? This should be interesting. He'd be the first black governor of Pennsylvania. And I can't imagine too many Republican governors' wives gave money to the Democrat presidential candidate the year before.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Divine Intervention

Did you know that God caused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive and debilitating stroke for Sharon's insistence on "dividing God's land"? Neither did I! Then He tiptoed over the Pacific and rained on the Rose Bowl parade for the first time in fifty years for Hollywood's blatant motley crew of gay cowboys, effeminate leading men and liberal hosts.

Then, being the ironically funny God of the Old Testament, He allowed an executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention to be arrested on a lewdness charge for propositioning a plainclothes policeman outside a hotel.
Lonnie Latham, senior pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church, was booked into Oklahoma County Jail Tuesday night on a misdemeanor charge of offering to engage in an act of lewdness, police Capt. Jeffrey Becker said. Latham was released on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon. Latham, who has spoken out against homosexuality, asked the officer to join him in his hotel room for oral sex.
This is what happens when same-sex unions exist in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. And, of course, Massachusetts. You can't say the fundies didn't warn us.

Whole Lotta Ranting

Giving money to a charity is a good thing. Taking money for political favors is a bad thing. So does that make donating to a charity money taken for political favors an ambivalent thing? Does 1 + (-1) = 0?

This week after Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felony counts of conspiracy and wire fraud, politicians in Washington started to distance themselves from the radioactive man in a fedora by donating their dirty money to charities or even just giving the money back. President Bush ($6,000), former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ($57,000) and his successor Roy Blunt ($8,500) on Wednesday joined the list of officials shedding political donations. Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois announced that he would donate to charity $69,000 in campaign contributions directed to him by Mr. Abramoff.

(It should be noted that although Abramoff shored up more than $100,000 for the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, making him an honorary Bush "Pioneer," the Bush administration is only returning a meager six percent of it to the American Heart Association.)

This by no means is contained to only one side of the aisle. Three Democrats -- Sens. Max Baucus (Mont.), Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) and Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.) -- have pledged to shed a total of $97,000 in contributions, while Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has rebuked any suggestion of parting with the $47,000 acquired with the help of Abramoff.

Back to my original question, though: Is this atonement of sorts righting the wrong that has occured? Is the donation of dirty money to a good cause a cleansing of politics or is it a smokescreen intended to cover the truth that they would've kept it had no one noticed?

Is this coming clean or getting caught? Everyone knows Abramoff was bad news. He has been bad news since he came into the political scene. That he got donations for a few Democrats as well as Republicans makes no bit of difference. Someone somewhere should've had the conscience to either decline the dirty money or give the money away before the man plead guilty to fraud. But I have heard of no such person. Some $5.3 million found its way from Abramoff, his lobbying colleagues and tribal clients to 364 federal candidates and campaign committees from 1999 to 2004, about 64 percent of that money going to Republicans.

Do I hope that this case is a catalyst to a great cleansing of Congress? Of course. But I do not care what percentages of each side it comes from. Well, I do but I don't.

If we're going to export our form of government to the world as the end-all greatest thing since sliced bread, shouldn't we give at least the appearance of believing the ideals of ethics and everything else democracy stands for? Tom DeLay once said, and hopefully believed:
The time has come that the American people know exactly what their Representatives are doing here in Washington. Are they feeding at the public trough, taking lobbyist-paid vacations, getting wined and dined by special interest groups? Or are they working hard to represent their constituents? The people, the American people, have a right to know.
Well, do they really?

With the indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on money-laundering charges, there is also the guilty plea by Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Del Mar (San Diego County), on bribery charges. Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands (San Bernardino County), was exposed for using his powerful positions on the House Appropriations Committee to lavish taxpayer-funded contracts on lobbying clients of his close friend, lobbyist and former California Rep. Bill Lowery. Two more California congressmen, Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin (Placer County), and Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, were implicated in the Abramoff scandal, having taken large campaign contributions from Abramoff's clients.

What does it all mean? I don't know. It's overwhelming and disgusting. And I hope change is on its way.

2005: The Farce of Freedom?

An excellent expose by Radley Balko. Neoconmen suck.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Six Degrees or Fewer

Well it's a small world after all! I didn't realize when I wrote my post on the Texas governor race that Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's son is President Bush's inept press secretary Scott McClellan. Very interesting, indeed.

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Years Resolution

Just like Flamingo:

In the year 2006 I resolve to:

Be the most totally awesome and uberly celebrated master of the universe that any mere mortal could be.

Get your resolution here.


What Goes Around

Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Republican, changed her party affiliation recently so that she could skip a bitter primary fight against current governor Rick Perry. Robert Black, a campaign spokesman for Perry, said the party switch is a move of "transparent political opportunism." This may be true, but a little tidbit at the end of this Associated Press piece makes me giggle.
Both Strayhorn and Perry are former Democrats who switched to the GOP in the 1980s as the party rose to political dominance.
Pwned.

Ape Fetish

A great post brought up by TheAgitator, dealing with whether King Kong is the champion of social conservatism. Of course, the whole idea of black and white personality types relies on the same silly and over-simplified world view that social conservatism.

And this on McDonald's trying to be hip, for giggles.