Saturday, January 07, 2006

Legal Disclaimer...
After reading this article via FreeRepublic, I feel I must protect myself, since I do say some very nasty things from time to time:

Anyone who pays attention to such things will note that I have changed my banner up top to make it absolutely clear that I am NOT a news page or organization, but an Opinion page.

It's a sad day in America when a concerned citizen of Minnesota cannot speak his mind, but Nancy Pelosi can't be shut up.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Of Hands and Cookie Jars...
Re: Jack Abramoff and the Congressional 'lobbying' scandal.

The Capital today is awash in a flood of reform legislation. John McCain is at it again, that Lone Ranger of 'reformers' that the press loves so much. We're about to be assailed by yet another wave of 'reform' for a system that's 'hopelessly broke' and 'out of control', and that we, 'the American people' deserve a 'system that's transparent' and 'untainted by the stench of illegal payoffs'.

Don't believe a fucking word.

McCain, for everyone who has forgotten, is the one who brought us 'tenure for politicians' (i.e. Campaign Finance Reform) which does very little to modify or reform the previous system except to make it impossible for an incumbant to be challenged by someone outside of the 'reformed' system. Now he's pushing Lobbying reform, which will basically enable the same people to bribe the same politicians, only this time they'll have to register in two places (instead of the present one) , file more paperwork and perhaps sacrifice a goat to Thor, God of Thunder. The devil will be in the details, but I'd bet (based on McCain's track record) that what smells like reform will simply be the continuation of the status quo with a 527-sized loophole in it.

Of course, the guiltiest scumbag on Capital Hill, Conrad Burns (R-Montana) nearly slipped in his self-created puddle of drool in his zeal to be the first to support McCain. Who is Conrad Burns, you ask? Until I found out he was a senator, I thought he was Homer Simpson's boss. Naturally, the other poster boy for shenanigans, Tom Delay, was front and foremost in this cesspit as well. Makes me proud to be a republican (smell the sarcasm?).

Anyway, the word is that Abramoff is singing like the proverbial birds, and that upwards of 60 (count 'em) Congresscritters (in both the House and Senate, including many a 2008 hopeful, ex-First Lady) may be besmirched by association, or at least, for taking a check with his name on it. Ideally, this kind of thing would be of benefit to the nation at large; we're finding out who the crooks are and if there's wrongdoing, they'll be indicted and jailed. On the other hand, what would that leave us with vis-a-vis the people in Congress?

Why, the ones who weren't even WORTH attempting to bribe.

What a conondrum! You know, the more stuff like this happens, the more you begin to realize that it takes more money to run for Senate or the House than it does to run the average schoolhouse for a year. Priorties are seriously screwed up with regards to our Congressgrubbers, if they continue to believe that their needs are above those of the country as a whole. Because at the end of the day, that's what this entire scandal is abouot: these guys need to constantly raise cash for re-election. If there's a choice for me, Matt Q. Public, between seeing Senator Dumbass re-elected and having an ndian casino somewhere nearby (it's three hours to Atlantic City from here, for Christ's sakes!), then I'm all for the casino. The senator is not necessarily required.

How to fix this mess? Well, I have ideas, of course;

1. Repeal the 17th amendment. That's the one that changed how senators get their jobs. Senators used to be assigned by the governor of each state, now they are elected like every other useless mouth...errr...Honorable Membner of Congress. The rationale behind the 17th amendment was corruption (i.e. governors packed the Senate with their cronies). That's convenient, because I'm citing corruption (Jack Abramoff) as a reason for repealing the sucker.

2. Chuck Campaign Finance Reform (McCain-Feingold). Let incumbants get assialed by interest groups from all sides, 24/7/365. Why should the actions of our Congressional thieves be hidden from the light of day? Let them deal with this crap all the time. Let them defend their records all the time. The rationale behind McCain-Feingold was all those nasty "issue-oriented attack ads" that used to air the day before an election that a candidate didn't have time to defend against. All CFR has done is to ensure that those nasty "issue-oriented attack ads" have merely one source: George Soros.

3. Place a spending limit on campaigns. I know, I know, there are those that will complain that restricting the amount of money a candidate can spend is a restriction of free speech. Well, I'd rather put a set price tag on a seat in the House than have the Jack Abramoff-types set it for me. It would also ensure that a candidate could only raise and spend a strict limit and therefore, wouldn't have to spend every second or third day of his life whoring him or herself.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

In Need of Help...For a Worthy Cause...
If there's anyone out here who actually reads this, I willrequire suggestions and perhaps a little help, on how to start a charity.

My idea (such as it is) came to me recently in a local library when I began to think about people who don't have access to a public library. Liek shut-ins. The elderly. The victims of Hurricane's Katrina and Rita.

I wish to start something I have tentatively called 'Lectric Library. The aim will be to put together a truck, some form of electronic reader, and a bunch of CD's that can be handed out in old-folks homes or in places where normal library service is lacking or out of service due to some emergency.

If there's anyone out there with experience in charity work, fundraising, electronics, publishing and the legal rigamarole necessary to get such a venture off the ground, please drop me a line.
Re: the gratuitous use of footage, taken in the wake of the would-be rescue of 13 trapped miners in West Virginia, and Fox News: was it really necessary to show that footage (by my count) seven times in two-plus hours?

As to who is responsible for the false rumors and slipshod reporting, we could yack all day about how we live in a 24-hour news cycle, the instantaneous-ness (if that's a word) of modern communications (and their subsequent contributions to spreading disinformation), the need for politicians to grandstand, etc. My beef was that we had a community that was suffering, it was cruelly (if unintentionally) given false information that reinforced their most fervent hopes, and then had the inevitible crash "reported" live for the entire world to see.

I really hadn't given a hoot in hell for trapped miners; after all, mining is a dangerous job and those who engage in it do so in the full knowledge that accidents happen, very often with catastrophic results.

I do give a great deal of credit to the belief that reporters, in their zeal to catch a story or in the name of presenting us with "entertainment", do go way too far when instead of doing the right thing (i.e. keeping the grief and the devestation private, as a personal matter for those affected, giving them dignity in their time of grief) opt to turn such a tragedy into drama in the name of ratings and news.

Which is why Geraldo Rivera, and Fox News, should be ashamed of theirselves. I have no expectation that such is the case, but this incident rubbed me the wrong way. Those people needed privacy and respect. What they got was exploitation of their tragedy.

Another thing that bothers me about the whole miner affair is the way in which media that DON'T have a need for immediacy (i.e. newspapers) managed to continue to spread disinformation even after the original information (all miners found safe) was disproven. I find that inexcusable.

Still, what's even more difficult to explain and excuse is how it is that Americans have become a nation of rubberneckers, all of us totally riveted by the train wreck in progress, salivating over the minutest detail or morsel of speculation from "reporters" and "experts". We all need to get lives, apparently.

As for the miners and thier loved ones, I offer condolences (such as they are) and the hope that you all find some peace, somehow. May God be with you.
I Don't Get College Sports...
Something that is sort of relevant at this time of year is all of the college "Bowl" games that take place. I must admit, that I do not see either the point, nor the allure, of college athletics to the general public.

I have done a little (read: very little, mostly just asking around) research into the huge phenomenon of colege sports. What makes them so popular? Why are vast sums of money being spent on athletics when it should be used on education? How is it that colleges can, with a straight face, claim that these guys are "scholar/atheletes", when most of them are inarticulate punks (doubt it? Watch the pre- and post-game interviews)?

Well, I got some interesting answers.

The first reason it's so popular, I'm told, is that there are some places in this country that just don't have access to professional sports, of any kind, or at least, of the more popular kind (football, basketball, baseball). True, I thought -- there's not much in the way of pro sports to be found in Boise, Anchorage or Missoula, for sure. So, yes, I can see where college sports might have appeal in these entertainment-starved markets. That, however, doesn't explain the popularity of these games in markets that are literally drenched in professional sports teams(read: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago).

Which leads to the second biggest reason; it's a chance to see tomorrow's pro superstars today.
To which I add: so what? You could do that at any minor league level (although, admittedly, it's not as if all sports actually have a minor league. Like the NBA, for instance) if you're really that interested. And by the way, minor leagues ARE pro in every way except the paychecks. Minor leaguers do get paid to play. The excitement of watching an athlete advance by stages seems lost on me.

So, what's left? Why, betting, of course.

Wagering of all types takes place at all hours of the day, and when your pro team is not worth betting on or perhaps not even playing, why there's always college sports. College sports takes in more betting, per annum, than professional sports. With the vast number of teams out there, you can always find a bet. Even Division III sports have a line on them. In this regard, college sports is merely another outlet for the degenerate gambler. The annual Bacchanalia known as "March Madness" probably generates more gambling revenue than the Super Bowl and World Series combined. I can't prove that, of course, but you don't see all that many office pools for the ALCS, do you?

So, having figured out that college sports are a) for people who don't have other means of entertainment, b) for people who just can't get enough sports, even those played at lesser level, c) degenerate gamblers and d) those who look at young athletes not as people but as livestock, I have decided that I will remain aloof and not give a turd.

In the meantime, someone try to figure out how it is that Patrick Ewing got a degree in Art History (from Georgetown!), how legitimate is it, and get back to me on it.
On Hiatus...
Apologies for the long absence. My life, such as it is, has been unduly complicated for the last few years and from time to time, such complications make themselves felt in very real ways. Like when I don't have the time or inclination to post a rant or two. Or, when I get bored with the whole, sordid thing and just say "Fuck it! I've got re-runs of Law & Order to watch!", and do nary a thing vis-a-vis a diseased diatribe in this space.

As if this will make it all better, I do kinda-sorta promise to make more of an effort in the future.