Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Baa Baa Black Sheep...

On this a beautiful spring day President George W. Bush took to the Rose Garden to have a chit-chat with the group of sheep we call the White House press corps. W said if the pension plan that members of Congress have is good enough for them then its good enough for the rest of America. Of course since Jan. 1, 1984 all members of Congress pay 6.2% into Social Security plus 1.3% into the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS). Members of Congress can also participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). So it's Social Security PLUS PLUS not instead of Social Security. A full pension is available to Members 62 years of age with 5 years of service. And did any ram or ewe grazing amongst the roses ask the president if the health insurance and medical coverage is good enough for members of Congress then why isn't it good enough for the rest of America? Or how the rest of us can get full vesting and full pensions after only 5 years of service? How do you say no in sheep language?

Friday, May 27, 2005

Honey, I shrunk the kids!

After intense debate the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand public funding for embryonic stem cell research - a bill President Bush threatened to veto. Stem cell research has been touted by scientists as a possible step toward finding cures for diseases and afflictions including Alzheimer's, cancer and paralysis. The threatened veto would be the first of Bush's presidency.

Bush said the bill "violates the clear standard I set four years ago." Bush claims the research destroys life because embryos are destroyed in the process. Majority Leader Tom DeLay said before the vote it would be wrong for the government to finance "medical research predicated on the destruction of human embryos."

"An embryo is a person," DeLay said. "This bill tramples on the moral convictions of an awful lot of people who don't want their tax dollars to be spent for killing innocent human life," said the Texas Republican.

I think we should hold them to that standard. Let's count frozen embryos as tax deductions for being dependents. Let's count them in the census for congressional representation purposes. Don't forget welfare and child care credits. And each will have to get a social security number. Can't wait for the insurance industry to oppose life insurance for the little blastocysts. If this all sounds insane - it is. Just like Tom DeLay and W.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bring out your dead!

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead. Or he is wounded. Perhaps critically wound. Maybe gravely or mortally wounded. Or alive and well. Here is the next phase in the war on terrorism. After starting to give body counts of insurgents (terrorists if you watch FOX news), surely a bad sign for those of you who remember Vietnam, the Pentagon and the intelligence community are now simply reading a militant Islamic website and saying, "They say he is critically wounded so that's good enough for me." Sounds like another phony victory in the making. Look for more wanted men declared dead. The party line will be "We killed him, we don't need to see a body and it's another blow to terrorism." The people with bounties on their heads will simply be declared dead without any proof and those who question it will be seen as sympathizers of al-Qaeda or anti-American or both. I think I saw this before in a Monty Python movie.

CUSTOMER: Here's one -- nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
CUSTOMER: Nothing -- here's your nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
MORTICIAN: Here -- he says he's not dead!
CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
MORTICIAN: He isn't.
CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
DEAD PERSON: I'm getting better!
CUSTOMER: No, you're not -- you'll be stone dead in a moment.
MORTICIAN: Oh, I can't take him like that -- it's against
DEAD PERSON: I don't want to go on the cart!
CUSTOMER: Oh, don't be such a baby.
MORTICIAN: I can't take him...
DEAD PERSON: I feel fine!
CUSTOMER: Oh, do us a favor...
CUSTOMER: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He
won't be long.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Embrace the horror

The breathless anticipation is over. Jennifer Wilbanks, the "runaway bride" was indicted today by a grand jury in Gwinnett County, Georgia and charged with one count of making false statements, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, and one count of making a false report of a crime, a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail.

I thought the result of making false statements was to be either given the Congressional Medal of Freedom (Gen. Tommy Franks, CIA Director George Tenet, CPA Viceroy L. Paul "call me Jerry" Bremer), promoted to Secretary of State (Condi Rice), nominated for U.N. ambassador, elected to a second term (Bush and Cheney), installed as World Bank head (Paul "Wolfie" Wolfowitz) or have a cabinet post created for you to oversee all U.S. intelligence agencies (John Negroponte). I guess the "runaway bride" had the mis-fortune of only being a fiancee in a red state rather than an executive brancher fooling the red states.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Democrats - Bitch-slapped again

After making the "nuclear option" -- banning the filibuster for judicial nominees -- a fight between good and evil, seems like good and evil have more in common than we thought. So here is the deal and you decide if the Democrats and Harry Reid don't have a Lynndie England dog leash around them.

1. Janice Rodgers ("government is evil unless it promotes me" Brown, William Pryor and Priscilla ("I'm with Karl") Owens get a vote and will be confirmed as federal appellate court judges.

2. No commitment to vote for or against appellate nominees William Myers and Henry Saad.

3. In the future judicial nominess "should only be filibusted under extraordinary circumstances".

4. As long as Democrats follow the "spirit and commitments made in" the deal, the "nuclear option" of altering filibuster rules (i.e. reducing cloture vote to 51 vote majority) won't take place in the 109th Congress and the 109th Congress only.

So what did Democrats get in the deal? A bitch-slapping. Again. Forget the talk that both sides won and lost. Democrats folded. Any guesses what "extraordinary circumstances" mean? If John Bolten is nominated for the Supreme Court? Is that "extraordinary?" And what if he is nominated in the 110th Congress? The deal doesn't apply. So which side got the better deal? The fact is until the Democrats are willing to lose they will never win. At least the dog leash industry just got 45 new customers.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Calling Helen Keller

The Republicans love to say Democrats have no ideas except to attack Republicans. Well what do you call Social Security privatization, legislation about steroid use in sports, turning the Senate into the House - as in majority rules, a bankruptcy law that guarantees people suffering from bad breaks will continue to suffer and accusing Newsweeks magazine of basically being responsible for 17 jihadist murders in Afghanistan? Good ideas? And by the way -- if the White House is now outraged by unnamed sources in Newsweek how about figuring out who the unnamed source was in the White House who exposed CIA undercover agent Valerie Plame? How about calling jihadist murderers terrorists and not just good kids gone bad because they read the Periscope section of Newsweek? How about addressing some issues that effect real people and not baseball sluggers and credit card companies? How about that? I guess a good idea is in the eye of the beholder and right now the Republicans are blind. Absolute power does that to people.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Springtime for Hitler?

"Senator Byrd's inappropriate remarks comparing his Republican colleagues with Nazis are inexcusable. These comments lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate. He should retract his statement and ask for pardon."

--Sen. Rick Santorum, March 2, 2005

"I mean, imagine, the rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judges. Broken by the other side two years ago, and the audacity of some members to stand up and say, how dare you break this rule. It’s the equivalent of Adolph Hitler in 1942 saying, "I’m in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It’s mine."

--Sen. Rick Santorum, May 19, 2005 on Senate floor

What we will hear from the excuse Rolodex? "Taken out of context?" "The situation is completely different?" "When I was talking about Hitler during the filibuster fight I meant it in a good way? I mean he reportedly liked animals!" "I didn't compare Democrats to Nazis just to Hitler!" Makes you want to pick senators by random from the phone book or maybe swing a dead cat and hit potential replacements. We couldn't do any worse.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Change - Their diaper that is

Voting for "change" is taking on a different meaning these days. Change, according to the Republicans, is about changing the rules if they don't like them. Don't like how many Democrats are in the House of Representatives, just redistrict them out even in between census taking every 10 years. You only got 208 judges approved and 10 held up by filibuster? Throw a tantrum, claim the constitution hasn't been followed in 214 years and then set out to change the rules. Not happy with the rules or the members on the House Ethics Committee? Quietly put the fix in and change them. Follow the long standing 15 minute time limit for House votes? Forget it. Make them open ended to give Republicans enough time to extort Republicans to change no votes into yes votes. Why not? Majority rules. Sounds fair. I'm all in favor of this actually. And now Democrats should thank the Republicans for them opening the door. They should redistrict Illinois and other Democratic controlled states. They should use every remaining rule to oppose Republicans in the Senate including a little talked about "hold" which is a filibuster of one. And when the Democrats re-take the House, Senate and Presidency, which will happen at some point, they should ruthlessly govern those bodies as the Republicans have. Look for the next tactic from Republicans who cry about their victimization of only controlling the Presidency, House and Senate. They will tell you if you oppose any Republican change whether it be Senate rules or Social Security privitization then the terrorists win. Someone get some wipes and change their diapers.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Phil A. Buster - A fair man or not?

Sen. Bill "I diagnose by videotape!" Frist M.D. has argued that judicial nominees deserve an "up or down" vote. He says it's the decent, fair and honest thing to do. That judicial nominees of the president deserve that courtesy. If that's the case then why even have hearings in the Judiciary Committee in the Senate? What's the point if they all deserve an "up or down" vote on the Senate floor. For that matter why even have a Judiciary Committee? Why don't we just send a presidential judicial nominee straight to the floor the day after the President announces it? And why limit this fairness and decency only to judicial nominees? Shouldn't every bill proposed by a Senator deserve an "up or down" vote? Do Senators and bills that affect millions of people deserve less fairness than one judicial nominee? How about all those civil rights bills in the 50s and 60s killed through the filibuster? Are civil rights laws less important than one judge's elevation to the federal bench? The committee system and filibusters are as old as the Senate. And not only did Republicans and some racist Democrats filibuster Justice Abe Fortas in 1968 but Sen. Bill "I'm a doctor but diagnose through t.v." voted to filibuster Clinton nominee to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Paez on March 8, 2000 after conservatives in Congress held up the nomination for more than four years. You can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

So Newsweek magazine publishes a story that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had tried to break Muslim detainees by flushing a Koran down the toilet. The story was blamed for inciting riots in the Muslim world and 17 people were killed in the violence. Now Newsweek is said to have apologized and retracted the story and the White House, sensing a Dan Rather-like deja vu opportunity has claimed Newsweek should do more. Like what? Perhaps the entire editorial staff can kiss pinky rings over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And by the way, Newsweek only retracted, "our original story that an internal military investigation had uncovered Koran abuse at Guantanamo Bay," and that it would be reported in a forthcoming military report. It did not retract that the incident or incidents of such Koran abuse actually took place.

It goes without saying that in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib, "Koran abuse" doesn't seem like a stretch. If you abuse people why wouldn't you abuse a book? They make dog collars for chihuahaus names Tinkerbell which might fit nicely around a book. What is another example of creating reality is that the White House, which invaded Iraq based on completely false stories of imminent danger from weapons of mass destruction, is complaining about a news story that has been retracted and apologized for but which at its core might actually be true.

Take a bow Mr. President.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Dude, where's my base?

The Pentagon has recently recommended the closure of 33 major domestic U.S. military bases and the realignment of 29 more, guaranteed to be a severe economic blow to many communities in the United States. Over the next 20 years the Pentagon estimates a savings of $50 billion. Too bad we can't afford those bases. We could have if we hadn't sent $200 billion, and still counting, to Iraq. Why don't we just send our taxes directly to Halliburton instead of the IRS and save some time? I can't say for sure but I'll bet there were more than a few voted for President Bush among those small business owners. Talk about voting against your own economic interests. Vote Bush who sends billions down the the rat hole we call Iraq and then close U.S. military bases because we spent our money in Iraq. Nice symmetry.

Friday, May 13, 2005

United Airlines - Fly the Deadbeat Skies

Ah, the joys of being a deadbeat corporation. After losing $5.8 billion dollars since it entered bankruptcy in December 2002, United Airlines has been given permission to walk away from its pension obligations covering 120,000 active and retired employees. Nice going boys. Despite all that free money after 9/11 and millions paid to United executives for "retention" bonuses you made less money in the last 2 and 1/2 years than my nephew's once a year lemonade stand. Good thing the corporate bankruptcy rules are so accommodating as to let United default on its obligations to creditors. And when some of those United employees themselves file for bankruptcy - a statistical certainty - the new personal bankruptcy laws won't allow them to do the same thing. We should bronze the two laws and make them bookends. Beat the rush and send your thank you cards now, while you still can afford it, to the Republicans for that brave bit of lawmaking. Libraries have already moved the book Animal Farm - "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others especially if you are a big corporation" to the non-fiction section.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sen. Voinovich - Gutless Worm

After saying John Bolton isn't the best man to send to the UN, listing what a horrible guy he is, that he is the poster child for what an ambassador to the UN should NOT be, that his behavior on many occassions would get him fired in a private corporation and that Sec. of State Powell was quietly against Bolton, the tradition of being a gutless worm continues in the US Congress. Sen. George "gutless coward" Voinovich (R-OH) says even though America can do better in a nominee he is going to vote him out of committee which means he gets a vote on the Senate floor which means he'll get confirmed. So once again vicious and abusive handling of the little people in goverment gets rewarded and gutless cowardness is exemplified in Congress. If only John Bolton was a relative of Bush, Cheney or the like would a "triple play" of disgusting have been achieved.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Hell Freezes Over

It's getting chilly down here.

Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich teaming up to press the issue of health care in America? Someone pick my jaw up off the floor. These two self-important potential presidential contenders in 2008 share a microphone to push for health care changes? Didn't Newt call the Clinton health plan in 1993 too radical? And now she makes a lot of sense to him? Is Hillary adding more conservative clothes to her political wardrobe to broaden her appeal? Of course. Does this confirm the thesis that Hilary works better with adulterous elected officials than those who value fidelity? Will there be an Oprah-like hug for closure between these two annoying political figures? I'll keep watching CNN to find out.

I guess I'm still not used to politics where former bitter opponents emerge from a room and say, "oh, we're really friends, I respect their beliefs, we can work together on this, blah, blah, blah." I'm sure it won't be long to find out the plan will favor their business friends, relatives, donors or all three.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Connect the Dots

When I was a kid I loved the connect the dots books. Take a pencil, draw a continuous line and see what picture emerges. So take some recent news stories, connect the dots and see what emerges.

Dateline, Kansas, 2005 - Let's teach "Intelligent Design" (a.k.a. creationism) in high school and redefine the definition of science. Additional proposals include teaching history students slavery was just a management-labor dispute, teaching home ec. students that the body of Christ might be in wafers and teaching sex ed. students that while abstinence may lead to an immaculate conception real sex is icky.

Dateline, Alabama, 2005 - At last a bill to ban any book or play by gay authors, or about gay characters! Bye, bye Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and Gore Vidal. Bye, bye "The Color Purple," "The Maltese Falcon" and some Shakespeare. Half the library books would be banned. The bill's author State Representative Gerald Allen, "I don't look at it as censorship." While some call it wholesale book burning it would cut down on reading homework for the innocent waifs who make up the student body.

Dateline, Texas, 2005 - State house approves a bill to restrict "overtly sexually suggestive" cheerleading. An amendment to the bill to require cheerleaders to wear bhurkas during routines was narrowly defeated.

A three-dot puzzle isn't really a picture but the list of "dots" goes on and on. What the religious right has done is hijack a Republican party willing to be hijacked to get power. "Freedom is on the march," we are told by President Bush. But while we claim to be against religious Ayatollahs and Mullahs overseas, Christian Mullahs are on the march here in America. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pat Robertson - Smiling Loon

The last time I was truly shocked at the news -- and I mean really shocked not the Captain Renault: "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling is going on in here!" Croupier: "Your winnings, sir." Captain Renault: "Oh, thank you very much." -- was Jan. 6, 1994. That was when I turned on my tv and heard skater Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed on her right knee with a metal baton and was forced to drop out of the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. It turned out that a rival, Tonya Harding, along with her John Waters-looking husband, Jeff Gillooly, (didn't we use a "gillooly" to open stuck jar lids?), Jabba the Hut-looking bodyguard Shawn Eckardt and Shane "I hit girls" Stant, were behind it. I just have an "I've seen it all" attitude and don't typically get shocked about the news.

And then on May 1, 2005 it happened again. I turned on my tv and I was shocked. Shocked I tell you. There he was, Pat Robertson, on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, with his toothy Cheshire cat grin implying a combination of being drunk and/or crazy claiming perhaps the looniest thing I've heard on a talk/news program. He said: "Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," Robertson said.

"I think we have controlled Al Qaeda," the 700 Club host said, but warned of "erosion at home" and said judges were creating a "tyranny of oligarchy."

When challenged on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years - worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War - Robertson said "Yes, I really believe that, I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together."

I immediately asked my father-in-law to come watch to see the nuttiest interview I had ever seen. He said his heart probably could take it and he might destroy his beautiful High Definition tv. I completely understand.

If this kook weren't worth a few dollars and was wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt rather than a suit you would probably find him involutary incarcerated in a mental institution. When you vote for the Republicans you are voting for a one-way ticket into Pat Robertson-world and while the sky may be blue in that world that future is black.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mother's Day

Note to all you fathers out there. Just because you think Mother's Day is not important doesn't mean your wife thinks the same way. I blew Mother's Day this year and while I will of course make it up to my precious wife I think except for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and valentine's day, all other gift-centric holidays or occasions should be considered crimes against humanity and banned.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Naptime for Junior - Nightmare for Parents

So its time for our little cherub, Benjamin, age 2, to take his midday nap. All things seemed to be a "go" in NASA terms. He didn't get a full night's sleep as he went to bed a little late last night and he has been rubbing his eyes and asks for "crib." Should be a snap right? Wrong. He simply refuses to lay down and close his eyes. After almost 30 minutes my wife takes over. It's now an hour into it and he won't take his nap which is normally pretty routine. Even Super Nanny Jo Frost couldn't win with this determined little fellow. I guess watching some cable movie while my wife deals with him isn't a good idea.

Friday, May 06, 2005

"I want to leave a legacy of despair"

And so it begins. The cranky voices in my head now have an outlet. And so the "Daily Curmudgeon" is born. The "Daily Misanthrope" was a very close second but a misanthrope hates all mankind and I just hate most of it. I will be sharing my thoughts on news, politics, problems with my house and anything else that irritates me. At the least it might cheer you up to see how cranky I am all day. Enjoy.
Web www.thedailycurmudgeon.blogspot.com