Tuesday, January 31, 2006

State of Confusion

Well, I just saw the President's State of the Union speech. Some quick points:

Next speech, he may want to do some research on some of his topics. Either that, or forget about mentioning things like poverty, disaster recovery, education and energy.

His form of Social Security "reform" will not happen. At all.

The government beancounters didn't factor in permanent tax cuts when they made their calculations and projections. Ipso-facto: a permanent tax cuts could actually do more harm than good.

Maybe you shouldn't have let your most aggressive non-elected proponent get arrested on the night of your big speech.

Lastly, when did the creation of animal-human hybrids become an issue? Did he use his comic books as a reference for this speech?

I think you can some up the President's speech this way: "Give me the limittless power I need to protect you."

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The Hoopla, Part One

Ok, so the Democrats plan to extend debate and shoot down the Alito nomination both failed. Time for a look into the whole thing.

I'll refrain from examining the Republicans right now because the party has basically been in lockstep with the President since 2000. There are going to be a few surprises with them and I don't see anyone there fighting for Bush's spotlight in the next two weeks; not with tonights SOTU address, the warrantless wiretapping issue and the Abramoff Scandal still looming.

So I'm going to dig into the Democrats a bit. Let's start with the cloture vote (the vote to extend debate on whether Alito should be a Justice). A "yes" meant end debate, a "no" meant continue. It went like this:

Akaka, Daniel K. (D-HI) Yes
Baucus, Max (D-MT) Yes
Bayh, Evan (D-IN) No
Biden, Joseph R., Jr. (D-DE) No
Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM) Yes
Boxer, Barbara (D-CA) No
Byrd, Robert C. (D-WV) Yes
Cantwell, Maria (D-WA) Yes
Clinton, Hillary Rodham (D-NY) No
Conrad, Kent (D-ND) Yes
Dayton, Mark (D-MN) No
Dodd, Christopher J. (D-CT) No
Dorgan, Byron L. (D-ND) Yes
Durbin, Richard (D-IL) No
Feingold, Russell D. (D-WI) No
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA) No
Harkin, Tom (D-IA) NV NV
Inouye, Daniel K. (D-HI) Yes
Johnson, Tim (D-SD) Yes
Kennedy, Edward M. (D-MA) No
Kerry, John F. (D-MA) No
Kohl, Herb (D-WI) Yes
Landrieu, Mary L. (D-LA) Yes
Leahy, Patrick J. (D-VT) No
Levin, Carl (D-MI) No
Lieberman, Joseph I. (D-CT) Yes
Lincoln, Blanche L. (D-AR) Yes
Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) No
Mikulski, Barbara A. (D-MD) No
Murray, Patty (D-WA) No
Nelson, Bill (D-FL) Yes
Nelson, E. Benjamin (D-NE) Yes
Obama, Barack (D-IL) No
Pryor, Mark L. (D-AR) Yes
Reed, Jack (D-RI) No
Reid, Harry (D-NV) No
Rockefeller, John D., IV (D-WV) Yes
Salazar, Ken (D-CO) Yes
Sarbanes, Paul S. (D-MD) No
Schumer, Charles E. (D-NY) No
Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) No
Wyden, Ron (D-OR) N0



Then there was the vote on Alito's confirmation. The Democrats who voted for Alito were:

Robert C. Byrd (W. Va.)
Kent Conrad (N.D.)
Tim Johnson (S.D.)
Benjamin E. Nelson (D-NE)



So let's look at how this pans out.

Sen. Bryd is experiencing some high, safe numbers so it doesn't look like W. Va. cared that he was taking a conservative stance on the issue. Ditto for Sen. Conrad ,Tim Johnson and Ben Nelson in their respective states. We're not talking about a bastion of liberal thought either; these guys were lucky to win in such traditionally "red" states.

I can't speak for those who run the Democratic Party, but I suppose if I could ask the leaders and strategists a question, it would be, "Who would you rather have in a red state: a Conservative Democrat or a Moderate/Conservative Republican?" Answer that question and you may see some gains in the 2006 mid-term elections.

But the bottom line is: don't expect Democrats to vote in blocks anytime soon. It's not happening. Too many Democrats have too many different ideas (despite what Republicans and most of the media may think) and its the fact that everyone has an idea that makes it hard to choose. Democrats in Congress need to start prioritizing; they need to narrow down the list of issue to three or five and start a grassroots&media blitz if they ever want to have some extra lunch buddies on Capitol Hill.

Narrow Margin

At 58 (for) and 42 (against), Samuel Alito becomes President Bush's second confirmed judicial nominee and future Supreme Court Justice.

A Momment Of Silence

The Coalition of the Few

Japan will be leaving Iraq in May. Keep in mind that most of their troops weren't doing the fighting, they were doing the rebuilding. Which means we ("we" being the "liberators") will have 550 less pairs of hands in helping to rebuild the country.

Who's gonna pick up that slack?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dude, You're Getting Outsourced.


India's gain is, unfortunately, America's loss: Dell is opening 5,000 new jobs over there.

So let me get this straight: Over the past...what, 20 years(?) American-run or American-based companies have fired or shortened their workforce. Most of these jobs are considered "Middle America" jobs like autoworkers and clerical staff. The people who are fired are told that they need to find another skill or trade, but the way the job market is, that leaves either computers or fast food.

So if you're over 40, and you thought you had job security until retirement, you've just been handled a virtual stomach punch. You either have to hunker down and learn computers from scratch (assuming that you had little to no exposure at your old job) or bury your pride and work at the local Burger Flipper under a teenager that just made supervisor.

Let's say most of these people (regardless of their age) actually beat the odds, go to TESST and get a couple of certificates. They learn the trade. They begin to excel in either software or hardware (or both) in a few years. They get a decent job and start to believe in the American Dream again.

Then something like this happens. Even the jobs people said you had to work because those old jobs wouldn't last forever, these jobs immersed in infinite possibility that is technology, aren't immune.

So my question is: when all of these jobs finally get outsourced, what are Americans supposed to do?

Follow The Money

The following has an illustration that clearly explains the "Abramoff Scandal." Learn who took what from whom, and why knowing this is crucial to knowing the difference from "legal campaign contribution" and "outright bribery."

Friday, January 27, 2006

Consult Your Doctor

According to a survey taken in D.C., half of those polled agreed that doctors should be able to perform assisted suicides.

I understand how sensitive an issue this is for most people; they don't want their doctors to determine who lives and who dies. Some don't want them to "let go" of a patient who may become a potential organ donor.

I'd hate to think some doctors would do such a thing in the name of harvesting fresh organs. As for the live/death angle, doctors decided that everyday: if a car crash puts two people in mortal danger, the doctor has to make a choice on who to help first. I'm can only assume how they make that determination, and whether they use the same criteria for every accident /injury, or take it on a case-by-case basis.

I will say this: I think if a person is in a situation where assisted suicide comes up, someone other than the doctor should be involved in the decision. I would suggest a qualified medical professionals and one family member at the very least.

Of course, there's the issue of which familiy member (parent, spouse, children, siblings) and what constitutes a "qualified medical professional" (I'm sure each state has its own definition). But this is definitely something lawmakers and the medical world needs to discuss further.

The President's Defense (as told by SNAP)





I know how hard it is to decipher some of the legal and political speak that goes on in Washington, D.C. Luckily, the 90's rap Group SNAP was able to translate Bush's defense of warrantless wiretapping (among other things) through one of their old songs:



I've got the power hey yeah heh
I've got the power
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh yeah-eah-eah-eah-eah-eah
I've got the power
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh yeah-eah-eah-eah-eah-eah
Gettin' kinda heavy

It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic

Like the crack of the whip I snap attack
Front to back in this thing called rap
Dig it like a shovel rhyme devil
On a heavenly level
Bang the bass/turn up the treble
Radical mind day and night all the time
Seven to fourteen wise divine
Maniac brainiac winning the game/ I'm the lyrical Jesse James

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh yeah-eah-eah-eah-eah-eah
I've got the power
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh yeah
Gettin' kinda heavy I've got the power


It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda heavy
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda heavy
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda heavy
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda heavy

I've got the power
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts

He's got the power oh-oh-oh-oh

I've got the power
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts
He's got the power oh-oh-oh-oh

I've got the power

It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic

It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic
It's gettin' it's gettin' it's gettin' kinda hectic

Quality I possess something I'm fresh
When my voice goes through the rest
Of the microphone that I am holdin'
Copywritten lyrics so they can't be stolen
If they are-snap
Don't need the police/to try to save them
Your voice will sink so please stay off my back
Or I will attack and you don't want that

I've got the power
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts

He's got the power oh-oh-oh-oh

I've got the power
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts
He's gonna break my heart
He's gonna break my heart of hearts

He's got the power oh-oh-oh-oh

I've got the power

I hope that clears things up.

A Clear Rivalry


I'm not sure why people believe two teams have to be in the same division to have a rivalry. I think an important component is what's happened between the teams when they meet on another. Does the trash-talking go up? Does it get a little more physical than normal? Do the calm guys and jokesters of the team turn into bulldogs?

If "yes" is the answer to at least two of the three above, then you have the makings of a rivalry.

In in the Wizard's case, I welcome it. For more than 20 years, I've endured pure basketball hell as the franchise has gone through constant coach-changes, comical draft choices and trades that defy all reason and logic. The brief Jordan Era came and went so fast there's virtually no sign #23 was even in D.C.

So Abe finally hunkered down and got a real GM instead of playing "wheel of loyalty." Of course, he still hired Eddie Jordan to coach first, but old habits die hard. Then they got a legit franchise player (on the rise! Whoo-hoo!) and paired him with guys that actually compliment each other and the game plan. And guess what? They started winning games.

See, that's the other part of a rivalry: winning. You have to win to make the playoffs, and in the playoffs the best team will get to meet each other again. That's why people used to say the Lakers and Celtics were rivals: they always used to meet in the NBA finals. Do you really think anyone cared about their two regular season games?

So yes, the Wizards and the Bulls are rivals. And as long as they can both be competitive and relevant, it'll stay that way.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Better Late Than Never, Right?

Sen. Arlen Specter finally gets around to asking Attn. Gen. Gonzales about that wiretappin' thing.

Hopefully when Gonzales answers, he'll explain why the Bush Administration is now supporting the very reasoning they originally shot down.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Higher Learning/Public Burning


During the Kansas lovefest -where President Bush pleaded his case for his warrantless wiretapping- questions were asked and answered. Among them, education:


Q Hi, I just want to get your comments about education. Recently, $12.7 billion was cut from education, and I was just wondering how that's supposed to help our futures? (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Education budget was cut -- say it again. What was cut?

Q Twelve point seven billion dollars was cut from education, and I was just wondering how is that supposed to help our --

THE PRESIDENT: At the federal level?

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think that -- I don't think we've actually -- for higher education? Student loans?

Q Yes, student loans.

THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I think what we did was reform the student loan program. We're not cutting money out of it. In other words, people aren't going to be cut off the program. We're just making sure it works better. Part of the reconciliation package, I think she's talking about. Yes, it's a reform of the program to make sure it functions better. It is -- in other words, we're not taking people off student loans, we're saving money in the student loan program because it's inefficient. And so I think the thing to look at is whether or not there will be fewer people getting student loans. I don't think so. And, secondly, on Pell grants, we're actually expanding the number of Pell grants through our budget.
But, great question. I think that the key on education is to make sure that we stay focused on how do we stay competitive into the 21st century. And I plan on doing some talking about math and science and engineering programs, so that people who graduate out of college will have the skills necessary to compete in this competitive world.
But I'm -- I think I'm right on this. I'll check when I get back to Washington. But thank you for your question. (Applause.)




Sounds like he went into his "validate the Bush Social Security Plan" mode during the end of his explanation. I don't see Bush doing too many unscripted Q&As in the future.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress points out how the college student temporarily stumped Bush, who needed an aide to get by this one. Maybe he could use some refresher courses of his own.

You Can't Impeach a King, Can You?

If Alito gets confirmed, does it mean that this type of impeachment talk will fade, or greater louder?

Turning a Corner, Falling Off a Cliff

As Ford announces more layoffs, I wanted to remind everyone that only 35% of American rate the economy favorably.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Do Mercenaries Make Good Bodyguards?

Would a group of people who have been publicly exposed as susceptible to taking bribes and favors for votes be considered trustworthy? How safe would you feel knowing that one golf trip could mean the difference between having a secure police bill pass or fail because it may adversely affect some lobbying group?

I can't say I'd trust anyone who did business with Jack Abramoff. I definitely wouldn't trust them to provide a secure America. Nevertheless, that's the strategy Karl Rove is pushing. And considering this is coming from the guy who said that CIA agents are "fair game," I'd be even more skeptical.

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"I'm...Bush Burgundy?"





What President Bush lacks in multitasking (and governing) he makes up in PR. Or at least, he really tries.

With pretty much every official who isn't connected or a part of the executive branch saying that his warrentless wiretapping is illegal, Bush has decided to take his case to the people...in his grand tradition of saying he is right mulitple times in front of a patriotic backdrop.

In this case, he's going to the NSA (where last time he was riding his bike).

Sounds like someone has been watching "Ron Burgundy" one too many times.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lucky Seven?

That's the number of states that have given President Bush a job approval rating higher than 50%.

The Crackdown

The Washington Post shut down their online blogging. Go here to find out why.

If it's true, then the Post has just proved exactly who they're doing news reports for.

UPDATE: The dangerous comments that lead to the shutdown can be found here.

UBER UPDATE: Jim Brady takes your questions, and explains that there are other venues than that one blog.

Don't Call It a Comeback...

Osama bin Laden has a new tape (hasn't this guy heard of DVDs?) in which he warns of future attacks and offers a truce.

Notice which media outlet uses what angle. I think both are important, as the fact that bin Laden seems to be paying attention to the polls.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trent Out of Shape

Sen. Trent Lott is pushing to be the Senate Majority Leader again. I was listening to his press conference on c-span.org and it went something like: "I don't like what Democrats are doing by being obstructionists, but I'll gladly ally myself with them to get my position back."

Considering Bill Frist is preparing for a presidential run (I can't believe he's serious about this; I mean what has he done? Who knows him outside D.C.?), Lott might just get his wish.

Scotty: Please, Pick Up a Newspaper.


How can Scott McClellan talk about the defending the nation when he can't remember the what's going on with the so-called "Axis of Evil" members?

Elephants Forget Stuff, Too

Particularly when the things they are forgetting has to deal with corruption. Two GOP member of note: Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay and Sen. Rick Santorum.

Looking For Reform?


So I'm looking to see how the two political parties are addressing reform in light of the Abramoff Scandal.

Here's what happened when I put in "republican" in Google and clicked on www.GOP.com. They asked me for money. The rnc.com homepage? All Alito, All the Time. Party Platform? It's based on a speech President Bush gave in June 2004 (keep in mind that he's been President since 2000).

The Democrats' front page? On their "org" site it's a little bit of everything: Congressional Reform, Katrina Relief, Fund Raising. Even an invitation to host a State of the Union Party.

So if you're looking for the "Issue of the Week" vs. "How We See the Country," well, you know which party is doing what.

More Than Meets the Eye


Some info about the new Transformers movie. Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg are behind this, so I'm guessing it'll have lots of explosions and characters with daddy issues?

Seriously, rumors say Spielberg mentioned it being about "a boy and his robot." Yikes. Someone please get Steve a copy of the cartoon's first three seasons.

"Take My Liberties, Please"


The thing that makes me upset about this "it's OK to spy on Americans without a warrant" thing is that instead of giving the American people a concise and comprehensive explanation on why it's legal, the Bush Administration just uses the "well, the other Presidents before Bush did it " logic.

I think Al Gore's speech on Monday really set the tone. He managed to put the issue in a context that Joe Citizen could understand. President Bush and his people had the opportunity to react with reasoning and logic of their own.

Well, they squandered it. Instead, they attack the messenger (again) instead of debating the message. And as usual, their attempts to do so backfire in the face of facts and reality.

"To Love, Honor and Get Rich With..."

Apparently marrying for money isn't a bad idea. Though I'd have to say it would be good if couples also had some kind of interest or attraction to one another.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hookah, Line and Sinker

Many North VA youths are flocking to this locale for rest and relaxation. If anyone in the area has a chance to check it out. Let me know what you think.

Hocus Pocus Politics

Is this biting political satire? Maybe. But it's still funny.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

One Team's Head Case...

On a special weekend Dime, Marc Stein laments about NBA stars Steve Francis (Orlando Magic) and Ron Artest (Indiana Pacers) individually. For different reasons, Francis and Artest haven't been the boon their respective teams had hoped for.

Marc doesn't address an obvious yet far-fetched solution: trade Francis for Artest.

Yeah it's crazy. And Indiana will have to give up someone else (Austin Croshere, perhaps?). But hear me out:

1. Orlando gets a guy who plays defense, can score, and has the ability to play/guard three different positions (shooting guard, small forward, power forward). Artest will provide the Magic with a defensive intensity they never had. His versatility would allow the team to go small and still be effective. As for his behavior, what two people to better pair him up with then Grant Hill and Desmond Howard? Put a "must do at least three community outreach projects with Hill and Howard a month" in Artest's contract, and the guy will be quoting Gandhi by late April.

2. Indiana get an offensive injection. A combo guard the Pacers can pair with Jamaal Tinsley (at times) to play a run-&-gun offense. Jermaine O'Neal becomes the undisputed leader of the team with this trade; and Indiana will find out if he has the chops for it (if he can't get Francis on the same page the Pacers weren't heading anywhere anyway). We find out if the coach was given a raw deal or if he just can't control head cases. Francis will not only be exposed to a coach who preaches defense, but an entire team who adheres to that philosophy.

Such a deal could be beneficial to both players and both teams. Or it could blow up in everyone's faces. But considering what the Pacers and Magic lack, it's something worth looking into.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bench Mob

It's not easy coming off the bench when you believe in your heart that you are a starter in the NBA. But was obvious from their record (and performance of late) that the Washington Wizards needed a shakeup.

Coach Eddie Jordan said that the team needed to refocus on defense and hustle plays. I agree that the best way to get those two things is to get someone like Michael Ruffin (defense and huslte) and Calvin Booth (hustle) in the starting line-up. But that meant benching Antwan Jamison (no defense) and Brendan Haywood (pseudo defense and little hustle).

I'm not surprised that Jamison and Haywood are upset. I remember quite vividly all those times Jamison beat on my Maryland Terps when he was in North Carolina. And Haywood has been a starter since the infamous Michael Jordan Era.

But look at Haywood's stats. The guy's never cracked an 8-rebound average. How can a seven-footer who averages 20+ minutes not average at least 8 rebounds a game? Even if you tried to argue that "well, the Wizards are too proficient in the scoring department" and because of this there aren't many offensive rebounds for Haywood to grab, he could always make up for it on the defensive end. And anyone who knows basketball knows that good defensive rebounding teams get on the break more, and get easier baskets. Sadly, Haywood's stats to date reek of a lack of hustle (his blocks save him from being a complete defensive liability).


Now check his replacement, Calvin Booth. Booth has done just as much with less minutes. If you were to double them, he would be getting the rebounding numbers you'd expect from a center.

In Jamison's case, I think if he was the old Jamison -the guy who took (and made) creative scoop shots and layups- he'd still be a starter. But he's gotten too comfortable with jumpers and threes, and he really isn't a shooter. He's a scorer. So when a guy who isn't known for slowing opponents down (let alone stoping them) goes from being a dynamic scorer to a so-so shooter, and he plays a power position with no power game, what's a coach to do?

Exactly. Give Ruffin a shot.

Now don't give me wrong; Ruffin will never be the scorer that Jamison is. But sometimes, change is good. It can motivate players to re-think their approach to the game. And the Wizards were due for a kick in the pants.

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Joining the Fray

Fox News jumps on the "Iran is Next" bandwagon, comparing it to Iraq (where we've yet to find WMDs, by the way).

You Dropped The Bomb On Me

Dangerous Times...

If this document is valid, and President Bush did OK warrantless wiretaps before 9/11 (he used 9/11 and the Patriot Act as validation for his actions) then the President has much to answer for.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

LOST In The Mix

Coupla thoughts about last night's episode:

1. "Jesus Stick" is my favorite new phrase.

2. What happened to the bags of heroin that Sayid broke?

3. Locke's life has been anything but a bed of roses; what was it about the Black Smoke/Lostzilla that he originally thought was beautiful?

4. You can argue that Eko's past (and combination with his endoctrination to the island) is what helped kept him come during his encounter with the "security system."

5. Why aren't the Others ever afraid of the "security system?"

Oh well; the show still has me hooked. :+)

UPDATE: I found a site that has broken down the whispers various characters have heard in the jungle. Strange stuff.

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Ring My Bell

Wanna buy someone's cell phone records? Even a celebrity's? You can go here or here. It will cost you, but (for now) it's perfectly legal.

I Came. I Saw. Iran.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is leading the charge against Iran.

Now why would she make such a move while the American media is caught up in the Alito hearings? She knows no one will be paying much attention. And her boss' handling of Iraq has severely hurt our credibility abroad.

UPDATE: Dick Cheney and John Kerry chime in.

Caught in The Middle

The Daily Princetonian gives its take (here, here and here) on how the Alito hearings are effecting their campus.

The Manchurian...Judge?

Apparently Sam Alito was coached on how to answer questions for these nominee hearings. But if he was coached by those with a particular mindset, say those who support the President's warrentless wiretapping methods, there is a problem.

If true, it means Alito (regardless of how he personally feels) was coached to support something that could become a future Supreme Court case (the President himself has already welcomed any Congressional investigation). This is, at the very least, a conflict of interest. It also raises the question of whether Alito is an independent thinker or merely a judicial funnel for the Bush Administration's policies and politics.

Audio/Video

An interesting and creative take on how President Bush likes to cheerlead one good thing (here the economy) while facing some bad news (the warrantless wiretapping).

The Crying Game

Did Republican Senator Lindsey Graham really bring Sam Alito's wife to tears?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Wanna Trade Jobs? Go Ahead.

Think about these guys the next time you complain about you job.

Speaking of which, President Bush's job approval is at 44%.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

C-SPAN Coverage

Naturally, C-SPAN is covering the Alito hearings. What's just as entertaining as the Senator (who are either grilling Alito or throwing him softball questions) are the callers (Democrat, Republican and Independent).

One caller said something to the effect of, "Alito has a wife and a daughter. He's couldn't be discriminatory towards women."

That sounds logical on the surface, but couldn't you make the same case for Freddy Krueger?

FEMA Needs a FEMA

Once again, the people running FEMA prove they don't know what's going on. They would have been better off outsourcing the hotel deal back to the American Red Cross instead of biting off more than they could chew (and enduring the inevitable toothache).

Here's hoping things get worked out for the Katrina victims involved, who God knows have been through enough.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Month of the President

Don't be surprised if you hear alot about or from President Bush this month. As the has-been explains:


We don't celebrate Presidents' Day until February, but at the White House, every January is Presidents' Month. No other time of year is so stacked in a president's favor. January is the time when the executive branch proposes what the legislative branch will spend the rest of the year disposing.

In the coming year, the Bush White House will try to bill a hundred speeches as "major." But the one that matters most needs no extra billing: the State of the Union address, now scheduled for Jan. 31. The press often covers the State of the Union as a back-to-the-wall, death-defying event. That's the treatment Bill Clinton got when he had to face Congress a few days after the Lewinsky scandal broke in 1998. The year before, he appeared split-screen alongside the verdict in O.J. Simpson's civil trial.

In truth, the State of the Union is the easiest speech a president can give outside his party's nominating convention. He has a month to practice and a ready audience: Partisans in Congress never miss an applause line, as everyone who has suffered along at home knows all too well. In a job with many perks, it's one of the biggest: an uninterrupted hour of prime time to set the nation's political agenda for the coming year.

But wait, there's more. The president also has the whole month to lay the groundwork for his other command performance, the federal budget, which will be released the first week of February.

Every cut, increase, and new proposal in the $2.6 trillion budget has already been decided and is locked in the computers at OMB. The day after the budget is released, most of those details will be dead on arrival in Congress. But all January long, the White House can spoon-feed the same items to starved reporters as front-page news.

This year, thanks to the Alito hearings, Congress will make a cameo appearance in the president's January. Unless Judge Alito falls flat on his face, however, the hearings will more likely serve as another boost for the executive branch.

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Mainstream? We'll Find Out...

Sam Alito's views on wiretaps differ from the mainstream. I'd say that's cause for concern.

If for those that want to sparse the meaning of Alito's comments, well, isn't that entering Bill Clinton's "what 'is' is" department?

The "Lucy Theory"

Slate writer Dana Stevens wonders why Heather Graham can't do better (despite her upcoming show). It may have something to do with television's proclivity to repeat hits instead of diversifying their programming.

I think it's a tad deeper than that.

Let's forget for a minute that everytime we get a "Friends" or "Seinfeld" we also get numerous copycats. Or that shows like "My Wife and Kids" and "Freaks and Geeks" are overlooked until syndication.

I can some up Heather's problem in two words: Cameron Diaz.

Check out Stevens' description of Graham:

"Not even the Hollywood logic that casts Winona Ryder as the "plain" sister in Little Women can ignore the fact that Graham is a stone fox, angel-faced and impossibly pneumatic."


Couldn't Diaz also fit that bill as well? Or Charlize Theron, even?

I call it the "Lucy Theory." Named after the famous Lucille Ball. You see, famous redheads are rare in Hollywood. Aside from her great comedic ability, Lucy's locks made her a standout.

Now, name three current redhead actresses in Hollywood. Or just three period.

For me, only Molly Ringwald and Julia Roberts come to mind. And I believe Roberts' arrival on the big screen all but spelled ringlet position as "Redhead to cast."

What does this have to do with Graham? This: there's just too many actresses out there who look like her, those actresses have proven their worth, and Graham hasn't done anything yet to separate herself from the crowd.

Honestly, Mena Suvari could have done this new show in Graham's place and no one would notice a thing.

Alito's Way(?)

Don't count on Sam Alito getting much support from the Black Community. He had a chance to make a good impression, but he blew it.

Rocket Man

It seems that Osama bin Laden is still giving Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his marching orders.

What's a "Congress?"

Apparently President Bush doesn't need to worry about breaking the new anti-torture ban, or any other law he's signed, because of a little-known proviso.

History Repeats Itself


The Abramoff Scandal may not be Watergate, but it proves that politicians don't study history (otherwise they would have avoided it).

Me, Myself and I

According to those polled by SurveyUSA, 75% believe that members of Congress are only in it for themselves.

61% believe that Congress are dedicated public servants.

76% think Congress member only care about getting reelected.

Read 'em all to get a better picture.

Idol Thoughts

In a recent WashPost article, they mentioned how Supreme Court Justice wannabe Sam Alito once defended Robert H. Bork, ex-Supreme Court Justice wannabe. He said:


"I think he was one of the most outstanding nominees of this century. He is a man of unequaled ability, understanding of constitutional history, someone who had thought deeply throughout his entire life about constitutional issues and about the Supreme Court and the role it ought to play in American society."


Of course, Bork is the same person who said, "You almost began to want to put the [Berlin] wall back up," when asked about the influence of pop culture on East Germany. Not exactly the guy I'd want to be connected to if I wanted to be one of the most powerful judges in the country, but whatever.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Cannibalistic Conservatism

House Republicans want Tom DeLay to go. Looks like someone is freaked out by the recent polls calling for a Democratic-controlled Congress.

Iraq Smackdown

According to a recent study, a high amount of American casulaties could have been prevented if the soldiers would have had adequate armor.

Armor for a conflict that top Iraq-rebuilders didn't see coming.

A conflict that has a cost over $1 million.

"Let Us Do Our Job, George"

Like he did the last time, the President decided to make more recess appointments. But this time, he's ruffled some feathers.

You've Got (Opened) Mail

Homeland Security is opening private mail. I'm sure it has something to do with fighting terrorism, right?

Right?

Murtha Nation Attacked

Before I mentioned how Rep. Murtha's comments might be used against him by Iraq War supporters and Murtha-haters.

Well, it didn't take long. Apparently, the military is blaming Murtha for it's recruiting woes.

Why is this just an outright lie? Because:

1. The military's recruiting has been falling before Murtha went public (which was about about a month ago).

2. Constantly changing deadlines (with regards to forming an Iraqi government) has made morale low.

3. President Bush's "Bad Boy" style of leadership has made an impression on many troops, who in turn have decided to take matters into their own hands. This also affects morale.

4. Sometimes, it seems that we don't know who we're fighting.

There's many more, so I'll just say the military should check the facts before making outrageous statements likke that.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Executive Steroids


On thing that Sam Alito's supporters don't want to talk about is his desire to give Presidents more executive powers. Given that President Bush made himself a proviso to bypass the recent "No torture" clause that Sen. John McCain forced through, and that this idea came from Alito, it seems that Bush considers the hearings nothing more than a formality.

But it says here that Alito is pushing for nothing more than executive steroids that future version of Congress will want to erode when the President is of a different party. And like real steroids, these executive steroids will only hurt the presidency in the long run. This idea from Alito should be soundly rejected by the Senate during his hearings.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Would J. Edgar Hoover Have Known About Osama?

If you listen to Vice President Dick Cheney, the answer is "yes." He told anyone who'd bother to listen that the warrantless wiretaps (the same ones Bush admitted using on American soil) would have prevented the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Unfortunately for Cheney, he must be too busy giving fearmongering speeches to remember that there are laws that cover these scenarios (like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).

But how can Cheney spread this fear on the same day that Bush is talking troop withdrawal? Sounds contradictory to me.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Murtha Nation

Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat military hawk who once had the ear of Presidents during times of war and foreign conflicts and once of the most recent military politicians to had spoken against the War in Iraq, told Nightline that he was in the eligible age-range now, he wouldn't sign up.

I see this as even a bigger blow than his call for reorganizing our approach to Iraq (which many incorrectly interpreted as a quick pullout). But I'm sure Murtha-haters will give this the ol' "See! I told you he was weak!" argument.

You're My Boy Blue...You're My Boy

Much respect to Patrick Cranshaw, who passed recently.

A Link to The Past (Scandals)


One of my favorite movie lines comes from one of my favorite movies: Sam Raimi's "Army of Darkness":

Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I've got news for you pal, you ain't leadin' but two things: Jack and shit... and Jack just left town.



That being said, here's ThinkProgress' take on "another Jack" who's leaving town...Jack Abramoff. Any politician who's ever lived in the West/Midwest seems to be on here; from Democrats like Dorgan to our own Commander in Chief.

But Mr. Abra-kadabra may pull the greatest magic trick in politics -a plea bargin- seeing how he's pleading guilty an all.

Break Me Off

Like most of America, I took a little break that thankfully coincided with the hoildays. So now I'm fresh and ready to bore and bewilder once more! Coupla things:

1. It the interest of keeping things light from time to time and showing my personal appreciation for one of the greatest toy/cartoons/comics of the 80's, I was trying to do character-based tributes to the Transformers for 2005 (the year the movie was set, BTW). I failed miseriably, but since a new movie is due between 2006 and 2007, I still have a chance to redeem myself. So when news is light and I don't have anything to ramble about, I'll just plug in a transded (Trasnformers Dedication).

2. I've been more political than anything here because basically I've checked other people's take on things and haven't agreed with them all the time. But I want to add more sports and entertainment commentary to balance things out. You've been warned!

3. Also on that note, relationship issues will also be discussed.

So I hope everyone had a Happy New Year! If not, you've got 361 days left!