Notes on Political Venality, Pomposity and Associated Stupidity.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It Ain't Summer 'Til the First Shark Bites!

Yup. Summer is here. Hot dogs, girls in skimpy clothes, convertible tops down...and sharks gnawing on... girls in skimpy clothes. And the cool part is, you don't even have to spend money to rent the "Jaws" DVD, 'cause you can get "all shark, all the time" on any handy national news network...or on your local news - even if you local news is in Helena, Montana, where shark attacks are, according to sheriff's deputies, "infrequent."

Yes sir. This is BIG NEWS people. And I'm sure we can look forward to at least a week of NATIONAL NEWS coverage of the couple who were noshed on by a cranky grizzly.

Oh, and the lady who owned the savage dog is getting her fifteen minutes.

But wait. News flash! Warhol was wrong! It ain't a 15 measly minutes. Even the most ridiculous little snake bite warrants at least 15 days of inbridled glee from the purveyors of news in our nation. The fifth estate, all anxious to take that term literally, move into their McMansions and live off their celebrity.

But the the really scary news is not about what lies lurking just below the surface of the ocean. The really scary news is out there for all to see. When Judith Miller (and all of us, by extension) got it upside the head from the Supreme Court, because she actually tried to do "real news," it became crystal clear that we have entered a new era, a journalistic ice age which will not just chill those who have our best interests at heart, but will freeze them solid.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Take My House...Please!

Due process took one on the chin last week, when the Supreme Court tromped all over the Fifth Amendment, specifically this portion, "..nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

It's the due process part that they basically turned their backs on, handing property rights a severe blow. Proponents, including the New York Times, argue that the ruling demands a "comprehensive plan" as a part of any "taking," but that is a specious and shallow argument. Every development has a plan. Current zoning, planning and envirornment law make this a necessity. Therefore, ANY development, anywhere, is probably, within the scope of the Court's decisions, fair game for the use of eminent domain.

Those who argue in favor of the ruling have apparently never sat in on a local government meeting of any sort, where a cadre of (mostly) nitwits argue and blather on endlessly, then make decisions, usually with almost no knowledge of whatever the issue is. When a developer comes to them and promises "revitalization" and "more jobs," they don't even stop to think - they green light the projects and slip a few extra bucks in their back pockets. Local government is, from all my encounters over the years, a pathetic old boys club. The only thing that saves us from it being more damaging is the limited powers they have.

The Court's statement that "states could enact their own laws regarding uses," is a carrot thrown to a dog with no teeth. What do you think is more likely? a) States enact tough anti-eminent domain laws, potentially handcuffing their "redevelopment" efforts or, b) State legislators sit on their hands and let the Supreme Court ruling stand?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flag Buring? Don't stop there!

It's a real pleasure to know that the US House of Representatives as, once again, approved a flag burning amendment. During a time when our nation is at war, and young men and women are being blown to bits in Iraq, this is what amounts to important legislation in our great nation.

Of course, the burning of the flag has been just rampant in recent years. Heck, you can't hardly walk down the street or turn a corner without seeing some nitwit torching the stars and stripes. The toxic smoke alone has created a new pollution threat (which the Administration believes will be dealt with by flag-burners voluntarily agreeing to use scrubbers) And it really pisses me off. Speaking of which...

If we're going to protect the flag, why stop at burning? I believe the House hasn't gone far enough. This must be a much more far-reaching bill, which I would title; The 2005 Omnibus United States Flag Anti-Desecration By Any Means Bill. It wouldn't stop at burning, but would include peeing on the flag, spitting on the flag, giving the finger to the flag, using the flag as a hamster cage liner and worst of all, blowing your nose on the flag. THIS is the admendment we need, not the weakass one that's been passed on to the Senate.

Oh, one more note. I also included a provision in the bill that bans its use as a symbol of craven politics. This includes any attempt to "create diminutive representations of the "grand old flag," which might be used a tacky adornment on one's clothing."

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Jeb's Florida Freak Show..Coming Soon To DC!

Let's be perfectly clear; Jeb Bush is running hard for President. His platform? Something like this;

"I'm further to the right and far freakier than my brother! Yes sir. If I get into the White House, the "culture of life" will get a major boost. No one will be allowed to die! In fact, I believe that pain medication should be withheld from those suffering from final-stage cancer, because, after all, Jesus didn't get to take Percocet on his way to Calvary. Pain and suffering is what this life is all about. As a Catholic, I was taught that...and I believe it. Of course, as a legacy son of the filty rich, I've never really ever suffered a moment in my life...but I think I can imagine what is must be like...sort of.

Anyway, you can trust me, as your next President, to bring everything I've learned and practiced in Florida to the nation as a whole. Voting fraud will become law if I am elected. Up until now, it's been far too easy for some Democrats to actually get elected. You can trust me to introduce legislation that will permanently give the GOP absolute control over the voting process. This will be a Godsend for older Americans in particular, who will be able to go to sleep much earlier on "election night."

I will also introduce legislation that will make it a crime to die "before your time." This should be a welcome relief to 88 year cancer patients who, mistakenly, want to "die with dignity." From where I sit, there is no dignity unless I, and the Federal Courts, say there is.

And speaking of pain, I will continue my brother's policies of "robbing the poor to aid the rich." The rich, people like me and my ilk, are the only ones who really know how to run this nation, and we need your money to help us do it! I know you're probably not smart enough to truly understand this...but trust me.

Finally, it just makes sense for another Bush to grace the White House and the Oval Office. Why? Because I said so! Also, it is obvious that "democracy" hasn't been working all that well anyway, and a Plutocracy would make a much better form of government. Don't know what that is? Don't worry. You'll love it."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Downing Street or Abbey Road?

I don't often watch the network news much. In that way, I'm not unlike a lot of Americans, who have, over the past twenty years of so, abandoned the "main stream media."

But I think my reasons are different than theirs.

I don't watch, not because the anchors are old and stuffy (until recently) or because the news isn't "relevant" enough to my "lifestyle," but because the networks do such an absolutely horrendous job of actually covering the news. The real news. The important news. Tonight was not exception.

While hearings were being held in DC over the "Downing Street Memo," and the word "impeachment" was being bandied about, NBC News thought they should use their oxmoronically named "In Depth" to cover the loss of oldies radio stations across the country. While I love an old Beatle's tune as much as the next guy, I think Downing Street trumps Abbey Road in this particular case.

This used to be almost funny, or, at a minimum, it didn't seem to matter that much. If the networks were going to become clones of the local news clowns, no big deal. But with the rise of the right and the anti-media onslaught it has brought, there is no longer anything humerous about the networks being anything less than solid, trustworthy purveyors of news. And nothing but news will do. No more infotainment, no more trashy features. No more celebrity suckups.

If the networks were to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, I bet they'd be surprised...'cause I bet the ratings would start inching up again...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

FLASH: Frist Admits "I didn't have an Xray VHS..."

Well, they finally got inside Terri Shaivo and found out what the real deal was. Her brain, sadly, was about the same size as most Washington politicians, that is to say, half the size of a normal adult.

Clearly, she would never have improved. In fact, every specious bit of speculation by the Shaivo family was proven false, once the charlatans got out of the way and a real doctor took a look.

For his part, Senate Majority Leader cum Doctor, Bill Frist admited his "diagnosis" (he did the 'quote mark finger thing') would have been better had he actually examed the patient or had conferred more closely with Omar the Mind Reader. (the above paragraph is meant as satire, just in case the Piltdownman Ombudsman is reading along)

Senator Rick Santorum, who swept into South Florida like a one-man red tide in the days before Shaivo's demise, was saddened by the entire event, because, well, it's over now, and he can't find any way to make any more hay out of it. (note: also satire)

In any event, don't you be saddened. Frist and Santorum and all the Self-Righteous Right are just days away from the Rapture. Omar told me so.

Friday, June 10, 2005

The N Word

No. I don't mean the disparging racist term used to refer to African-Americans. I mean the word that refers to another group of unlamentable racists, the National Socialists. You know them better as Nazis.

Increasingly you hear the term used to refer to the current administration of George Bush. Whether this is fair or even remotely applicable I won't argue here (at this moment) What I feel we need to consider, however, is the fact that many people are doing just that. They are looking in dispair at the Bush Presidency and perceiving the gradual creep of facism which defined the NS in Germany.

These people fear that all those "little things," which have robbed them of liberties they once thought were sacrosanct (and which, generally, whizzed through Congress) -- and the larger issues (like Guantanamo Bay) have a very nasty antecedant.

They remember asking themselves years ago; "Why didn't people stop the Nazis before it got out of control? Couldn't they see what what happening?" Today, they are asking themselves the same questions. And they are looking out across the grand sweep of this nation and wondering; is it happening again?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Base Likes Their Bases

One of the advantages of age is that you develop perspective. You are able to see an arc, a sweep of images, ideas and thoughts which rise and fall over the years. So it is with the current fuss over military base closings in our country. This issue has a long and storied history. One administration or another has been trying to close down bases ever since the end of WWII. Generally, they've had about the same luck that the current effort is having. And politicians love the fray. It allows them to stand up and pontificate, knowing that the decision wasn't theirs, so they can't be blamed. As always, the issue gets down to people's personal, pocketbook concerns. While closing bases is looked on as a money-saving effort by the federal government (and that should appeal to the supposedly fiscally responsible crowd) you'll find Joe Q. Conservative up in arms when the base just happens to be in his backyard. Suddenly, the concept that a base may represent nothing more than a large, gun-metal gray welfare state isn't something he wants to hear. He'll stand on the corner, shoulder-to-shoulder with his blue-collar, Democratic buddies, screaming that the base must remain open! Jobs must be saved! This is an isue that forces the "run government like a business" crowd to stand up for their principals. As you've noticed....most of them don't. And as you've also noticed. Nobody is too surprised.