Thursday, September 29, 2005

DeLay Dethroned!

Well the news came as a surprise to this brutally honest commentator… Tom DeLay (or is it Delay?) was FINALLY indicted by a Texas grand jury! By the rules set up by the Republicans – and thankfully not changed because the public was watching – Delay had to step down as House Majority Leader, which he used to lord over the Congress like a king lording over a fiefdom.

Of course, DeLay was QUICK to castigate the district attorney as being a "rogue partisan prosecutor". NEVER MIND that this guy prosecuted far more Democrats than Republicans! NEVER MIND that this guy probably did everything in his power to make sure that all the I’s were dotted and all the T’s were crossed and all of the ducks were lined up before taking the matter to the grand jury. NEVER MIND that this prosecutor is so stringent on enforcing the law that HE PUT HIMSELF up for the grand jury once!

No, this district attorney DARED to bring a charge against KING THOMAS FRIGGING DELAY, and because of THAT, he’s a "rogue partisan prosecutor on a baseless witch-hunt."

Well too bad, dickhead! You’re out of power! You couldn’t get the rules changed to save your sorry corrupt ass and now you’re going to have to pay the price for your corruption!

Now the GOP has to worry about cleaning up YET ANOTHER mess on their hands. The Nero act over Katrina didn’t help matters much… the whitewash hearing over FEEBLE-FEMA isn’t helping either... and leaving the GOP-run House in the care of Congressman Blunt won’t help either. Blunt apparently has some connections to one of the indicted people. What happens if Blunt gets indicted as well?

Of course, being a political cynic, I rejoice over ANY career politician’s downfall. Democrat or Republican, it really doesn’t matter. But after the blatant abuse of power that DeLay showed earlier this year, I REALLY have to savor his downfall! This is a guy who REALLY needed a reality check, and it FINALLY came in.

NOW… here’s the next question on this issue:

How long will it take before Darth Rove convinces Bush Junior to issue a pardon for DeLay?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hurricane Rita and Gas Prices: Did Sonny Screw Up?

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue (not to be confused with the late “chicken man” Frank Perdue) did something rather pro-active this week in preparation of Hurricane Rita’s arrival on the Gulf Coast. As soon as he heard that oil refineries and platforms were shut down on the Gulf Coast, Perdue requested that all Georgia schools to be closed on Monday and Tuesday to help save gas. He also asked all “non-essential” state employees to stay home and telecommute if possible.

The idea here is to cut down on the demand for gas in the first two working days after the hurricane so there won’t be this “panic buying” that occurred right after Hurricane Katrina hit. Perdue had already ordered that the gas tax be waived for the month of September and his people were monitoring gas stations looking for price-gougers. (Sorry Sonny, but it’s the oil companies that are really gouging people.)

Now some people have an issue with Sonny-boy’s plans. The state will be missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue because of the gas tax being waived. I’m sure that every single greedy, money-grubbing politician in the state is pissed off about that. The parents are pissed because this news hit on late Friday, and that doesn’t give people much time to set up day care or some other way to take care of their kids. I’m sure that plenty of parents will be taking personal days off from work whenever possible because of this situation.

But here’s something that needs to be pointed out… Governor Perdue took a PRO-ACTIVE stance on this matter. He didn’t wait for something bad to happen. He didn’t wait for the prices to go up. He didn’t wait for there to be price spikes and panic buying. He stepped forward and said, “I’m going to do everything possible as governor to cut down on demand BEFORE it becomes a problem.”

It’s about frigging time that SOMEONE did something like that! Of course, now we have to follow up on this train of thought and cut down on OUR overall demand. Fat chance, I know, but we still gotta do it at some point, and it’s better to do it NOW when gas is threatening to hit $3 a gallon than when it approaches the $4 and $5 range. When gas prices reach those levels, it’s not going to go back down to the $2 range ever again!

And here’s something else that you probably haven’t even considered… guess what is the biggest gas guzzling activity for ANY vehicle, large or small? Waiting around in traffic! Just ask the people in Texas that were fleeing Rita and they’ll tell you! A lot of people ran out of gas simply because they were stuck in the middle of the rush to get out of town.

Now guess what is THE biggest cause of rush-hour congestion? School! Between school busses and those STUPID parents who chauffeur their precious tax exemptions to and from school, our roads become congested because of school. When school is out, for whatever reason, you’ll notice that traffic moves smoothly. I have been an Atlanta-area commuter for over TEN YEARS and I can tell you from experience that anytime school is in session, our roads become parking lots!

So now we have Monday and Tuesday where the schools are out, and some parents will probably have to stay home for those two days as well. That means fewer cars on the road, which means less congestion, fewer traffic jams, and thus those commuters who do hit the roads will get to their destination without being stuck in traffic and wasting their gas. That means less overall demand for gasoline for those two days.

It’s rather ingenious if you think about it.

Whoops! I said that naughty word again, didn’t I? “Think”! Yeah, we’re not supposed to “think”, we’re just supposed to “react” and “obey”. Asking people to THINK… what was I thinking?

By the way, gas prices have already started to climb here in ATL. Before Friday, the lowest I saw prices were at $2.53/g (that's WITH the gas tax being waived). On Friday they went to $2.59 and then to $2.69 and some places are now at $2.74. And those stations that still have gas advertised at $2.53... are out of gas.

What is it like over in your neck of the woods? Seeing any closed-down pumps? Do you agree or disagree with the Governor's plan? Don't be shy! Don't just be a blogging lurker! Sound off! (Just don't SPAM.)

DVD Review: Star Wars Trilogy

Okay, obviously this DVD collection isn’t new to the shelves. In fact it’s been out for almost a year now. But after debating long and hard about getting it, I finally said WTF and got the Star Wars Trilogy. (Widescreen version, of course!)

First things first: if you NEVER saw the original three Star Wars movies before, either in the theatres, on TV, or on videocassette, and if you’ve seen Episodes I and II, then hold off until Episode III comes out then get the trilogy. You would also take great pride in saying that you’re one of the few people left on the planet who have NEVER seen the original trilogy.

If your only exposure to the trilogy was when they first hit the screens in the 70’s and 80’s, then you’re going to be in for a rude awakening, because George Lucas added some tweaks in all three movies. There are some extra scenes thrown in, and in “The Empire Strikes Back” a scene is completely re-written. Han Solo doesn’t outright murder poor Greedo in “A New Hope”… now it’s self-defense. Greedo shot first… and missed.

And some of the changes weren’t even in the “special edition” releases that hit the theatres in the late 1990’s and came out on videocassette.

One such change I’ve gotta let out of the bag… at the very end of “Return of the Jedi”, the most controversial and annoying character in the whole Star Wars universe gets the last spoken words! A certain floppy-eared character cheers and says “Wesa Free! Wesa Free!” It’s a little hard to spot him because he’s so small in the scene, but his voice is unmistakable.

Changes aside, the changeover to DVD wasn’t perfect. In “A New Hope” there were some audio problems with Governor Tarkin’s meeting with Princess Leia where his interrogation of her doesn’t come out too clear. Also in the escape from the Death Star, you can still see the box-out effect around the TIE fighters, which appear as a faint square halo around the fighters as they roll. This was actually a leftover from the original movie when they first incorporated their patented special effects, but Lucas never fixed it either in the “special edition” or the DVD changeover.

But the real goodies are in the Bonus disc! Not only do you have documentaries galore, but you also have an Xbox demo game of “Star Wars: Battlefront” and the original trailers for all three parts of the trilogy, including the original teaser trailers. One teaser was for Episode VI’s original title: “REVENGE of the Jedi”, released before Lucas changed it to “Return of the Jedi”. Plus there’s a behind-the-scenes exclusive on Episode III which showed the “return” of Darth Vader, or how they had to recreate the infamous Vader outfit. And you get to see that one shot… Haiden Christensen, the actor who personified Anakin Skywalker, puts on “the mask” and becomes Vader. It’s a rare scene, but I’m sure one that Star Wars fans have been waiting to see.

Okay, here’s the skinny: this is a good box set, and I really recommend it if you’re building a Star Wars DVD collection. It’s a little pricey, but remember, this IS a box set! If you’re expecting the price to drop, you’re going to have to wait a little while longer… probably until Lucas comes out with the “Ultimate Star Wars Box Set” with all six episodes, the two animated Clone Wars discs, that rare televised Thanksgiving special, and whatever other extras are thrown in. And you KNOW that he’s going to do that at SOME point!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Quick Thoughts: The Bush Imperium’s Katrina Speech

Okay folks, a few quick thoughts on Bush Junior’s big speech concerning Katrina.

First of all, I found myself taken by surprise to see Bush Junior actually ACCEPT responsibility for the unacceptable response in the first days after Hurricane Katrina hit. I’m sure he had the most sour of tastes in his mouth when he had to do that in front of the media… even worse than when he was on his drinking benders in his younger days. It’s not easy saying “I screwed up.” But of course he never actually SAID that HE screwed up! He just said he accepts the responsibility as president. Then he just blamed the rest on Mother Nature. And he promised a “thorough review”… from the very agency that DID screw up! Can you say “whitewash”?

Yes Mister President, this was NOT a normal hurricane… but that still does not explain why you played Nero to the tragedy. Why didn’t you cut your vacation short and head back to Washington so you could mobilize that response that took all week in showing up? YOUR part in this matter also played an important part in this FUBAR situation and you SHOULD have addressed it in your speech.

Second, what was up with the location of his speech? Of all of the places that he could have been, even in the French Quarter, the president HAD to pick the ONE place in New Orleans that looks like nothing ever happened to it! In a city that is still partly underwater, and the rest still covered with debris from the flooding and the hurricane itself, this is the ONE PLACE that is meticulously trimmed and free from any kind of damage.

But every time we turn on the news, we see the reporters standing in front of flooded out streets, buildings with debris, or just areas that are devoid of electricity, traffic, or life. Why didn’t the President make his speech in front of these places, huh? If he TRULY wanted to show that he was really THERE and that he really CARED about the devastation, why wasn’t he making his speech showing the kind of damage that was all around the city? Why hide up in the RICH part of the city; high, dry, and free from damage?

If the Imperium wanted to use the location to show that they really cared about the people truly affected, they picked the WORST place to do it! The only possible way that Karl Rove could have made the situation any worse would be if he told the President to make the speech on Air Force One as it made another fly-by over the city, like it did the first time around.

Bush Junior promised much for rebuilding the area, offering tax breaks and incentives. They all SOUND good, but it’s one thing to promise it all… it’s another to actually deliver. If the Imperium can’t deliver those things, then it will be yet another black mark on their record, and for the GOP come 2008.

If Bush Junior was looking to redeem himself through his speech, he once again fell short. And if other people have mixed reviews about his speech, then again Bush Junior has nobody to blame for that but himself… and his people.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Why not a Stupidity Czar?

For the past week I've been hearing this STUPID call from people in Washington wanting the Bush Imperium to appoint a so-called "Hurricane Czar" to oversee the recovery operations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. No doubt they've seen the glaring ineptitude from governments large and small and they just want to shove everything onto one person to organize things.

The two names being bantered about for this "czar" job are Thug Giuliani, who was New York's mayor during 9/11, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Giuliani got canonized because he simply did his job as mayor. It doesn't sound like Powell wants the "czar" job, though, because he was very critical of the Imperium's efforts in this FUBAR, and you don't get rewarded in the Imperium by bashing it.

But I'm just wondering... what the hell is up with this STUPID appointment of a "czar" in the first place??? It's not going to make the disaster recovery move any faster than it is now. You're not REPLACING anyone with this kind of a move. All you're really doing is giving some government wonk a title and shoving him in front of the media to make speeches.

Listen to me now and believe me tomorrow, girlie men in Washington...


We just need people to do their goddamned jobs!

You ALREADY have a "czar" of sorts in Washington. His name is Michael Chertoff, and his title is "Secretary of Homeland Security". That may not sound as spashy as "Hurricane Czar", but his job as director of Homeland Security is supposed to oversee and organize all of the aspects of a federal disaster recovery efforts, including overseeing the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

If Chertoff can't oversee the recovery efforts of a storm that took DAYS to arrive, how the hell is his department supposed to oversee and prevent a man-made disaster (terrorism) that could strike at any moment?

Washington doesn't need a "Hurricane Czar". It needs a Stupidity Czar! It needs someone to walk over to the various other "czars" and smack them upside the head!

Besides, Washington has way too many czars to begin with.

  • First it has the "Scapegoat Czar"... Karl "Leak" Rove

  • It still has that so-called "Drug Czar"... whose name is as clueless as his effectiveness.

  • Let's not forget the various self-appointed "morality czars" in Washington... the people who make it their mission in life to "save" America from itself.

  • We also have the "decency czars" over in the Federalist Christian Censors who are busy santizing radio and television.

All of those czars, and Washington STILL can't do anything right!

Besides, remember when calling someone a "czar" was a BAD thing? When calling someone a "crime czar" meant that they were actually a CRIMINAL? Today if you call someone a "crime czar", they'll take it as a badge of honor! That's what screwed up in Washington!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bush Imperium tries to "Blame Canada"...

So now that the Bush Imperium has been hit with their FUBAR (read my column for the details on that) over Hurricane Katrina, they're going overboard trying to pin the blame on ANYONE except themselves. They want an "investigation" over who - besides Bush Junior and his people - dropped the ball.

Listen to the Imperium ass-kissers... they'll all use the same buzzword. "Blame game."

You want to point out the Imperium ass-kissers... listen to all of the people who use the words "Blame game" over Katrina.

Is it wrong to say that George W. Bush didn't show the leadership that was expected of him over this matter? Where was he when Katrina hit the shores of the Gulf Coast? He was in Arizona making a speech! He wasn't in Washington DC where he belonged! He knew that this storm was coming and he knew it was more powerful than any other storm in recent history, and instead of at least giving the APPEARANCE of leadership, he fled in the opposite direction.

Bush was an oil man once... supposedly... and he didn't know that Port Fourchon was the hub of oil imports? He didn't know how the markets would react to even the FEAR of damage to those facilities? A TRUE leader WOULD know these things and he WOULD have been in a position to quell those fears instead of doing nothing and letting those fears blow up into outright panic and hysteria.

And why DID Air Force One only make a FLY-BY of the devastation instead of making an appearance? A TRUE leader would have been down there as soon as possible, not when his polls tell him that he needs to be there.

And notice I haven't said ONE WORD about FEMA or about what local politicians did or did not do. These are all specific mistakes that THE PRESIDENT made.

That's not blame... that's calling the President out on his mistakes!

Remember the last verse of "Blame Canada"?

"Blame Canada... before someone decides to blame us!"

Well that's the Imperium right now, and that's all that their blue-ribbon, first-class, Grade-A investigation will be about. They're going to look for scapegoats to cover up their own mistakes. And guess what? A TRUE leader owns up to his own mistakes instead of looking for scapegoats.

Where does the buck stop, Mister President? Answer that and you'll know where the blame ultimately rests.

Sorry Spammers - you lose!

Just a little heads up to those who have been posting... I've just put in an extra security feature that will cut down on the comment spambots out there. It's going to take an extra second or two when you post your comments but at least I'll know you're a human being and not a damned filthy spammer!

Rehnquist leaves... and leaves us scared.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the US Supreme Court did not want to leave... but he had to anyway.

For many months there was speculation that Rehnquist would announce his resignation. This Brutally Honest commentator had earlier speculated that most of the rumors of his departure were engineered by one Karl Rove as a way to gently nudge the old man out so the Bush Imperium could bring their own people in.

But then Rehnquist stayed and Justice O'Connor announced her departure.

Now Rehnquist left in the only way a man determined to stay could leave... by dying.

There's a lot that can be said about Rehnquist, both as a SCOTUS justice and as Chief Justice. There were a lot of things that happened both good and bad under his watch. Rehnquist has the distinction of being the SECOND Chief Justice in American history to preside over an impeachment hearing.

As I pointed out on several occasions, this man, who was supposedly a "strict constitutionalist" presided over a court that made SEVERAL serious constitutional ERRORS. But there are a couple of things that need to be said...

First, while the high court made several key advancements for liberty under his watch, Rehnquist was often defaulting on the side of government. Instead of applying concepts of freedom to the US Constitution, Rehnquist believed in the absolute justification of government, be it large or small. The government passed a law, Rehnquist supported it by default.

Under Rehnquist's watch, liberty was suppressed in favor of GOVERNMENT.

But the other thing that should be noted is this... Rehnquist also had the courage to go before Congress and WARN them not to make every social misstep a federal offense. I mean, it's one thing to complain about these things... we all do it. But to get before the Congress of the United States and actually CALL them on their dictatorial trends! That takes courage.

Of course Congress NEVER listened to his warnings... probably because he never followed through with getting the court to toss out those federalized laws. Then again, that would have gone against his own nature.

So now where are we? We're about to have the Supreme Court being run by the very man who used to WORK for Rehnquist as a clerk. Believe me whenI say that I am SERIOUSLY concerned about this situation. Rehnquist was billed as a "strict constitutionalist", and he turned out to be more along the lines of "strict government".

What will John Roberts be like as Chief Justice? And who will the Imperium put up to replace O'Connor now? I guess we'll just have to find out.

My only hope... is that Sandra Day O'Connor does something completely unexpected and decide to stay on the job until 2009. It's not likely, but it certainly would be the one thing that would keep this country from becoming TOO damned conservative.