Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: January 2006 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Friday, January 20, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!

It just struck me. I'm a year old. Funny, I feel a lot older.

It was a year ago this month that this blog came into being. Not counting the gestation period, of course, as I know there are those out there who believe that life begins at conception. In which case I'm a lot older, as the disillusionment with our elected "leaders" has been gestating, or should I say 'festering', much longer than that.

And although I'm still learning to crawl, I'm suprised that there are people out there who are interested in what I have to say. I started this blog with the intention of educating and informing people of the mistakes we've made recently, mainly in the 2004 election. But as I've learned and become more "politerate", it's grown to include local politics, the environment, and injustices in general.

It's been a wyld and crazy year. I've learned much, and been called much, since I started.

I've learned not to drink and blog - it's much better to wait until I'm hungover. The post may not be as fresh, but it's much more coherent.

I've learned about grammar and syntax, although I still have a lot to learn about being snarky and prolific like the masters at Pinkdome and Wonkette.

My second-ever post (the first being a brief introduction) was linked by The People's Republic of Seabrook with the following excerpt:

Patriotically Correct vs. Not Patriotically Correct

  • PC: Believing President Bush's promises.
  • Not PC: Expecting him to keep his promises.
  • PC: Believing Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11.
  • Not PC: Pointing out that the only thing that Iraq and Al Qaida have in common is the letter "Q". (and later pointed out, the letter I).
  • PC: Believing that Haliburton is the only company that could handle support for the Iraq war because "it's a big job".
  • Not PC: Pointing out that Dick Cheney made the decision, and he used to run the company.
  • PC: Voting straight ticket Republican on moral grounds.
  • Not PC: Questioning the morality of Republican leaders who lie, cheat and bully their peers to pass legislation that benefits themselves and their friends.

And I was off and running...

And of course, with Jack's detractors clued into my presence, the negative comments began to roll in.

Also in January, Richard Cranium at the All Spin Zone linked to a piece I did on the proper way to burn a flag, which drew criticism from both the right and the left.

That's right, I'm an equal opportunity offender.

In February, I set up a site meter, and was counting twenty-plus hits per day. Not a lot compared to the mega-bloggers, but knowing that more than a hundred people were looking at my blog every week motivated me to keep writing.

Since then, based on comments posted, I've been looked at by some big hitters including Pissed Off Patricia at BlondeSense, and Rising Hegemon. No idea how they found me, but I'm honored to be noticed by the hotshots of the progressive blogosphere.

Now, thanks to the previously mentioned bloggers and my new friends in the Texas Progressive Alliance, I'm kept in the loop on political goings-on and social happenings, and hopefully will use these newfound resources to help keep you, the internet surfer, informed as to the state of our union.

So as the new year progresses, I leave you with the tag-line used by annatopia -

Fudd's First Law of Opposition: Push something hard enough and it will fall over.

And this quote from the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, borrowed from Eye on Williamson County -

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter"

For the best representation money can buy...

All Aboard the Gravy Train

In the wake of the Abramoff bribery and corruption scandal, Republican legislators are scrambling to buiild up the facade of ethics in government. Thank goodness some of our GOP leaders are brave enough to buck the tide of appearances, and continue to show their true colors.

I'm talking, of course, about Congressman Joe Barton, who kicks of his gravy train, er, Texas Train Ride where, for the paltry sum of $2,000 ($5,000 if you're a PAC), you can spend several hours with "Cotton Bowl Joe" (okay, the Cotton Bowl isn't really part of the BCS, but it sounds much better than "Orange Bowl Joe", doesn't it?), get an after-hours tour of the Alamo, and spend an evening of drinking and gambling. Yessir, good ol' Republican values!

The invitation promises that "During the ride, we'll have lots of time to talk".

How's that for blatantly snubbing the ethics reform movement?

And in the spirit of the GOP's secrecy mindset, he's not reporting who'll be aboard the train. Wouldn't want any big PACs that are linked to Abramoff having any public association with this endeavor, would we?

In response, annatopia is asking for financial support of his 6th District opponent, David Harris. Compared to up to $700,000 Joe stands to make from this fundraiser, every dollar Dave gets will help combat the advertising blitz Barton is sure to mount in his attempt to retain his seat in Congress.

Monday, January 16, 2006

the "ayes" of Texas are upon you

While Governor Rick Perry is basking in his 65 percent delusion, in which football coaches retain their jobs while librarians lose theirs, there are others who think they can do a better job as governor.

Never mind that Perry's two special sessions failed to produce an education bill or anything else that resembled meaningful legislation, he's still portraying himself as a man of the people.

So who dares to pit themselves against Governor Goodhair?

There's Bob Gammage, who thinks that his reputation of opposing corruption will help him beat MoFo at the polls.

Then there's Carole "One Tough Grandma" Strayhorne, and Kinky "Why the Hell Not" Friedman.

Add to the mix Chris "Redistrict This" Bell and you've got an interesting race.

In any event, the governor's race in Texas is the one to watch.

Regardless of who wins it (other than Perry), it can only be an improvement over the current administration, whose only goal seems to be lining the pockets of those who've contributed to the current governor's campaign.

If Strayhorne wins, the education system wins.

If Kinky wins, we've proved that politics are a farce.

If Bell wins, there's a good chance that we'll have medical insurance for everyone.

And if Gammage wins, then it seems that everyone in Texas wins overall.

I'd say that's 4 - 1 odds that Texas can be improved in the next election.

Make sure you make your voice heard and vote next election day.

It's really up to you.

Ethics? Puh-lease! This is politics!

Okay, we know about Tom DeLay leading the bid to close the Native American casinos in Texas while under the influence of Jack Abramoff. And we can deal with Roy Blunt transferring donations between funds to benefit his son's campaign in Missouri from DeLay's deep pockets in Texas.

But our concern is this. Who will lead the GOP when they're all in jail?

And why didn't this send a message to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who's just now coming into his own as a lobbyist?

Bush in 2006!

It seems that with the hype about Vince Young abounding, Reggie Bush has been lost in the shuffle. Maybe cooler heads will prevail in the coming months before the draft, but for now it seems as if popular opinion will steer the Texans towards drafting Young. Big mistake.

Sure, Young made a spectacular showing in the Rose Bowl. But Bush has proven himself all season and appears to be ready for the NFL, while Young - although a talented runner and respectable passer - still could stand to gain by honing himself further in college.

At issue is the number one draft pick. We can pick Reggie Bush, Vince Young, or trade for lower draft picks. My take is that Young would be the worst possible choice we could make in this situation.

Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

First because, although Vince Young is an exceptional ground player, he still has a way to go as a passer. Sure, he holds his own in college, but against NFL defenses, he will probably not pan out as a superstar. Another year in the NCAA will probably fix this, but for now, he'd be average.

Second, he'd most likely play backup to David Carr, who in my opinion, is highly underrated as a QB. Put Young behind the same line as Carr, and you'd likely see the same result. Even if he bumped Carr out of the number one QB slot it wouldn't make much difference in league standings for the team, and Carr would declare free agency next year (as is his right), leaving us just as shallow in the QB position as we are now.

On the other hand, Reggie Bush would make a nice addition to our offensive backfield. Domanic Davis can only do so much, and Bush would provide another weapon for defenses to have to guard against. After all, there's only one quarterback and multiple offensive backs, meaning Davis and Bush could be on the same offense and easily obfusticate the defense with multiple attacks.

Or, we can trade down for players to fill the holes we're sadly lacking in. Lord knows there are plenty of offensive and defensive positions that we need talent in to get us out of hole we're in. There are lots of players in the draft that can fill these holes, and a 13th or 14th pick can do this for us.

With all taken into account, I believe we should go with Reggie Bush. He would add an offensive weapon without replacing anything critical, and will greatly improve the team's chances of winning more games next year.

I'm tired of the Texans being the brunt of NFL jokes. I watch their games, and I want to see them win.

Let's let the owners know that we want a winning team, not just a team full of superstars that have name recognition, and can compete with other teams rather than with each other.

Draft Reggie Bush. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm voting for a Bush for the first time in my life. And, unlike others who have voted likewise, I don't plan to regret it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The knuckleheads are running rampant

Regardless of whether you believe in evolution or not, it's evident that de-evolution is alive and well in the 21st Century.

The concept peaked my interest when I caught a news bite about a man in New Mexico who tried to kill a mouse he'd caught by throwing it on a pile of burning leaves. Needless to say, the flaming mouse ran back into the peabrain's house, and burned it down along with all of its contents.

What a maroon. Fire safety aside, what would posess a person to burn anything alive, regardless of its position in the food chain. In this case, it appears that the rodent's last great act of defiance proved who was the smarter of the two.

So I looked a little deeper, and it seems the knuckleheads are running rampant.

Consider the dimwit in North Dakota who stole a some earings from a college fundraising auction, then tried to have them appraised at the jewelry store that donated them to the auction. And, you guessed it, the name of the jewelry store was on the earing box, so it's not like a coincidence that he accidently took them to the wrong store.

Or the guy in Germany who sold a stolen camera on eBay to its original owner.

Or the nitwit in Nebraska who tried to rob a bank with "FINDME" as the vanity plates on his getaway car.

If you believe that intelligent design should take the place of evolution, whoever put these witless wonders together was either having a bad day, has a sense of humor, or is intent on thinning out the herd.

Or some of us could just be de-evolving.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The war is being fought by the wrong people

I joined the military thinking it would give me a better chance at life. A chance that included educational reimbursement, even though I found out later that they didn't provide the benefits I thought they would.

Now my own son has joined the military to get the benefits to improve his life in the way that I couldn't.

He's chosen to lay his life on the line to get these benefits. During wartime.

It's the curse of the middle class. College is a dream. Sure, Community College classes count towards a degree, but until you have serious money for a University, most of your time spent seems like spitting in the wind.

And so my son enlisted in the military. At least his training will take up to a year, meaning he won't be deployed for at least a year.

But this is no comfort for those whose sons and daughters have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the past few months.

Its sickening to know that the middle and lower classes are the primary sources of human fodder deployed in war zones in order to protect oil interests around the world, while the priveleged classes are safely ensconced at home doing "war related" activities, including political activism and fundraising for the Republican Party.

It reminds me of our president, safely in the Texas National Guard, skipping classses and partying in the States, while his contemporaries were dying in Vietnam.

But it's all about earning your degree. Dubya managed to score a degree with his connections. My son will have to earn a degree by possibly fighting and dying for his country in an illegal war for a chance to earn his degree when he gets home by applying himself 110%.

Dubya's degree was superficial, and got him opportunities mainly on his name recognition. My son will need to apply for jobs relying mainly on his academic achievements.

My son will succeed because he's an intellegent, resourceful individual, who's ethics and values will be appreciated by some forward thinking company, or in his own business.

Dubya will retire gracefully because he's fostered lobbyist loyalty and has fostered many friendships in his presidency.

It still boils down to the fact that lower and middle class citizens are the ones who serve in the military, and the onus of who dies for our country should fall on our leadership. And, using the title of leadership loosely, I lay it on the White House, the Congress and the Senate.

As a parent, a citizen and a voter, I know the value of my son's life, knowledge and well being.

Don't muck it up. Because I know the score. And I will hold you personally responsible for his safety.

Signs that the new year may be better

Primary Season Promises Fireworks
The Candidates

I know, I'm an eternal optimist, but hey - exciting things are happening already. Yeah, some of them have been in the works for awhile, but they're now beginning to come into fruition.

The best reason to celebrate is that Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion charges today. Yes, it was expected, but now it's official. He'll plea and hopefully sing like a bird, bringing down everyone from GOP Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, through his buddy, the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, up to and including top officials in the White House. Dubya's already denied ever meeting the guy, but you know there's dirt to be dug up. There's plenty of dirt under Abramoff's fingernails from all through the political spectrum, so this isn't a partisan thing. Crooked is crooked no matter which side of the fence you're on, and I hope we get them all. Or at least enough of them to send the remainder into hiding.

Another reason to celebrate is that Bill White will serve another term as Houston's Mayor. Almost from day one, he cut through the red tape to work on our traffic and environmental problems, and proved adept at listening to advisors who actually knew what they were talking about. Sure, he made some mistakes, but unlike typical politicians, admitted and then corrected them. Too bad we can't find more public servants that would do the same.

Speaking of public servants, Nick Lampson has thrown his hat into the ring for the 22nd Congressional District race. As you may recall, he got squeezed out of a neighboring district when Texas Republican leadership, headed by Tom DeLay, rearranged the Districts, which left Nick with predominantly Republican constituents. Needless to say, he lost his next election.

Now he's moved to Sugar Land and is taking on DeLay, and it seems as if he's got a good shot at unseating the Hammer for the first time in DeLay's more than 20 years in office. Throw into the mix that DeLay is fighting money-laundering and conspiracy charges, and that he faces three other Repubicans in the primary, and it should make for some interesting theatre. People are already suspicious of Republican ethics (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), and once the mud starts flying, it can only make them seem dirtier.

In other good news, District 7's Jon Lindsay is retiring. Although his district is heavily red-state, there are four candidates vying for his seat, among them professional loudmouth Dan Patrick, which should again insure plenty of mudstorms and more disillusionment being washed away among the constituents in northwest Houston.

The race for governor just got less interesting, with Carole Keeton Strahorn, aka One Tough Grandma, announcing that she'll run as an independent. Strayhorn has been one of the most vocal critics of incumbent Rick "Adios Mofo" Perry. With her running as a Republican, it promised excellent theatre and a good chance of widening the chasm between the GOP and it's lemmings. Now, as an independent, she'll have to convince the reddest of states that it really is time for a change in ideology. Not an easy task, with most of the electorate blindly swallowing the bull shoveled at them without question.

Ironically, Strayhorn was originally a Democrat, then switched tracks to the GOP twenty years ago. Now she's defected again and become an independent, along with satirist Kinky Friedman. The Libertarian party boasts one candidate, and the Democrats and GOP four each.

On the downside, District 18 - largely suburban and heavily Republican - is being vacated by Democratic Senator Ken Armbrister, leaving the district open and contested by four Republicans and one Democrat. If the Republicans take this district, it would give them 20 of the 31 seats - one short of the two-thirds majority required to advance legislation.

All in all it promises to be an interesting election season. If there wasn't so much at stake, it might even be entertaining. This season will be a big step towards putting someone decent, or even intelligent, in the White House in 2008. Let's not make the same mistakes we've been making - actually believing what the candidates say - and do a little research on their actions before we decide to vote for them. I know I will, and will do my best to spread the word. Because, as an uninformed electorate, we become victims not only to sound bites, but to the actions of the politicians that benefit not us, but those that hire lobbyists to get favorable legislation.

Happy New Year, Y'all!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2005: a year to remember

Nothstar at the People's Republic of Seabrook has posted his comprehensive 2005 Dumb@$$ of the Year Awards, and again he has outdone himself. And once again he proves that the barrel has no bottom.

Many thanks to my good friend Jack, who introduced me to the world of blogging and linked to me back in February of this year for the first time. I am forever in his debt for helping me get my opinions out to the masses. Along with him, I have attempted to bring to the world's attention the atrocities committed by our so-called public servants. He has drawn most of the wrath for this - mainly because he has more readers and a higher profile.

In retrospective, he was a mentor. Thank you, Jack.

Anyway, he apparently had some time on his hands, and has collected the year's biggest dumb@$$es into one place for your browsing pleasure. So, without further ado, I give you:


Amateur Night at the Apollo

I haven't seen so many drunk people since, well, last New Year's Eve. It amazes me that people still think it takes alcohol to have a good time. The bands started at nine, and by then most of the inhabitants of the hobbit hole we call a club were well into their cups.

A rare treat, a good harmonicka player, started off the evening, although he was a bit of a Blues Brothers wannabe. Reminiscent of Elwood Blues in his style of dancing and singing, he was still a killer harpist, and had the crowd hopping with his antics and guest guitarist, Mark May of Agitators fame.

Mark took the stage next with his Agitators, and along with playing his originals, got the crowd fired up with a Santana double play - Oye Como Va and that other instrumental that I can't think of the name, but always make me crank up the stereo whenever it comes on the radio.

The night ended with Uncle Mojo bringin' it home. Although I doubt most of the crowd would bring it home safely, and I hope most of them took advantage of the hotel discount available.

The point is, New Year's Eve is supposed to be a celebration of the year past, and hopefully looking forward to the coming year. But it seems that New Year's Eve is the time to drown your sorrows for all of the bad times that the year brought, and to numb you to the injustices to come. That shouldn't be. If we all try to improve our situation in the year to come, then alcohol should not only not be necessary, it shouldn't be involved at all.

Let's all make a resolution to improve humanity's lot in the new year - not only our own, but that of our fellow man.

And not to drink so much. At least until next New Year's Eve.