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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Steamed! Steamed I Am!

Apologies...

Sorry I've not blogged lately. I've been too angry. Every time I'd start writing something, it ended up sounding like an uneducated, angry rant. Which, basically, is what it was. So I'm starting over. I'm gonna start with local stuff first, then move on to the stuff that raises my blood pressure. I was hoping to add a few "Pictures of the Day," but I'm having woes indeed trying to get photos to upload today. That makes me sad.


Snow Snoozing

I'm so proud of my beloved bride Dagmar! Friday night she slept out in the cold, raising money for homeless. Dagmar raised $130 by herself; the grand total raised was over $20,000! I'm proud, not only of my wife, but of Sioux City in general and all the people who donated in particular. The money will be split among three different agencies to help the homeless, and planners are hoping to make this an annual event. (I've been trying to upload a picture of a few tents leaning gamely into the wind with several damp, cold-looking people wandering about in a field, but the photo doesn't want to cooperate today for some reason.)

This generosity is especially needed now that the Republicans have forced their budget through the House of Representatives... Homelessness will be on the rise in our fair city thanks to our shortsighted elected officials in Washington. But more on that later.


Surprise of the Day

I watched the Chicago Bears play football today, and I saw something refreshing. Wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad ran down the field all tangled up with a defender. Muhammed missed the pass. Instead of jumping up and down in front of an official demanding a penalty against the defender, Muhammed simply shrugged his shoulders, as if to say "Shoot, I missed that one," and trotted back to the huddle.

On another play, a Bear running back (I didn't see his name) scampered through traffic for a rather impressive first down. I was expecting him to jump up and do the mandatory "NFL Happy Dance," looking like a fool, spiking the ball and pointing at himself like he's Superman. Instead, the back simply tossed the ball to the nearest official and made his way back to the huddle.

Well done! It was nice to see some class in the NFL. I hope it spreads!

On the other end of the spectrum, a Houston Texan ran a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. He was understandably excited and jumped into the stands (which didn't bother me in itself - 99-yard touchdowns are rare, and the poor Texans are having a tough year so far). Right beside the player was a fan, dropping his beer and fumbling for his homemade sign, hoping to wave it in front of the cameras. It read "Acme Meat Market, Pasedena, Texas." That upset me. It was obvious that the guy couldn't care less about the game, he just wanted to get free advertising. Thankfully the camera turned quickly away. (It wasn't really "Acme Meat Market," I'm not gonna tell you exactly which meat market it was. That would defeat the purpose, you see.)


Bushleague

As Mark Twain once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time... And your government when they deserve it." source

Several more people have proven themselves (to me at least) to be untrustworthy "loose cannons" in the past few weeks, and have lost my support. The list grows... It used to consist simply of the Bush administration (who have persistently and consistently lied to us about the war in Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, al-Quaeda, the ties between Saddam Hussein and al-Quaeda, and myriad other rather important items). The notables in that list include:

President G. Walker Bush. He took us to war under false pretenses.

Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney. He advocates torture. Nice guy.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He can't seem to find truth anywhere.

Dr. Condoleeza Rice. I had hope for Dr. Rice, but she followed in Colin Powell's footsteps, unfortunately, in blindly following Mr. Rumsfeld's lead. Mr. Powell did, eventually, resign.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, indicted for money laundering, etc. etc.

There are too many more to list, quite frankly. Scooter Libby, that other guy who was caught making illegal trades, the people who are lying about the Valerie Plame case...


The new list includes:

Representative Steve King from Kiron, Iowa. According to Richard Doak of the Des Moines Register, Mr. King "suggested building a razor-wire-topped fence along the Mexican border." The Des Moines Register Editorial Board said King "...later used borderline racist code words about the need for 'cultural continuity' in America," and said his fence idea is "barely disguised bigotry cloaked in phony pieties." Mr. King also recently voted in lockstep with the Republican line to cut social welfare while at the same time granting $70 billion in tax cuts to the rich. But more on that later... In my eyes, Mr. King is an embarrassment to Iowa.

Iowa's Tom Latham voted yes on the budget. (I'll get to that in a minute.)

Iowa's Jim Nussle (Republican candidate for governor). He also voted to cut gramma's Medicare in order to fund tax breaks for the richest in America.

Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens. Mr. Stevens has had several meltdowns lately. One of the more notable tantrums involved Mr. Stevens refusing to relinquish some $453 million earmarked for building bridges in Alaska. I saw the clip on TV - I think he actually barked. Many people thought that the money could be better used for hurricane relief efforts, but Mr. Stevens disagreed. According to the Washington Post, one of the bridges to be built would link 50 people to the mainland. The money not used for that bridge would be a down payment for a billion-dollar bridge to a nearly abandoned port near Anchorage. Mr. Stevens claimed people were discriminating against Alaska when they asked for some of that money to help homeless people. It turns out that Alaska receives $1.89 in federal money for every $1 they pay in taxes. Kudos to Mr. Stevens for working hard for his state and his electorate; it's a pity that he's willing to sacrifice his country. source Mr. Stevens was also in charge of the hearings regarding the big oil companies' record profits at a time when Americans are scrambling to find money to pay their rising gas and heating bills. The very first thing Mr. Stevens did in the hearings was to rule that there was no reason to swear the oil companies' CEO's to tell the truth, thus invalidating the entire hearings. At stake? Drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Ohio Republican Representative Jean Schmidt has embarrassed herself and her political party by making statements on the Floor that Representative John P. Murtha was a coward for saying it's time to start thinking of bringing troops home from Iraq. Evidently, Ms. Schmidt didn't know that Mr. Murtha spent 37 years in the Marine Corps, served in combat in Vietnam, is very highly decorated, and is in fact considered "one of the most respected military authorities in the House." The House of Representatives exploded, outraged Democrats hollering at Ms. Schmidt. When the debate resumed, Ms. Schmidt retracted her comments, and asked that her words be withdrawn from the Congressional Record. source It's nice to know she sticks by what she says...


The Budget, Finally

You know, I'm still too mad to talk intelligently about this. The United States House of Representatives voted recently to slash the budget by some $50 billion by cutting Medicaid, food stamps, student loans and myriad other social programs (including $15 million for Iowa's "deadbeat dad finder" program, according to the Des Moines Register). At the same time, they are giving some $70 billion in tax breaks to America's richest people. The budget passed by two votes. All Democrats voted against the budget, as did some Republicans. It's a bad deal. Seriously bad. There are solid figures here if you're interested.

Besides cutting social programs, the budget will take money away from farm subsidies, which will impact Iowa's economy in a number of ways. As a double-whammy to farmers, the budget also strips money away from alternate energy development, namely soy and corn based fuels.

Fortunately, the budget still has to pass the Senate. Please, let your Senator know how you feel about this. Do some research; don't take my word for it. Please, please form your own opinion and LET THOSE IN POWER KNOW WHAT IT IS.

I'm off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening!

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