Friday, December 29, 2006

Stormy Weather

President Bush was escorted to a storm shelter when a tornado warning was issued for Crawford, TX earlier today. Mr. Bush was allowed to go about his business when someone tightened the valve in his ear and the high winds stopped.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Shared Destinies?

Ray Charles – died June, 2004
Ronald Reagan – died June 2004

James Brown – died December 2006
Gerald Ford – died December 2006

My advice is for George H.W. Bush and Little Richard to start looking out for each other.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Stocking Stuffers

The Crazy Like Me Correspondent has decided I should take care of stocking stuffing this year. Something about losing the mystery of her stocking’s contents if she does it herself.

She’s taking a risk. My idea of a perfect stocking stuffer is Nicole Kidman. I doubt that Craze and the Sole Heir share my tastes, so I had to get creative.

My first idea was to get her a deeper stocking, then watch her try unsuccessfully to reach all the way to the bottom for the small, but valuable gift I told her was there. That had the benefit of being extremely economical, since it will still be there next year.

Since the element of surprise is so important to her, I also thought of wrapping up things we already own but don’t use everyday, so they wouldn’t be missed in the days leading up to Christmas. Imagine this little Christmas surprise:

Her: Thanks, but I think I have two of these now.

Me: No, you don’t. Trust me.

I like that idea. It combines the element of surprise with a guarantee the person will like the gift. How many Christmases have you racked your brain for the perfect surprise, only to find out the recipient didn’t like it? Or found out exactly what the person wanted, but missed the joy of seeing her surprise upon opening it? Not any more. Take a favorite CD, book, video. Wrap it up, put it in her stocking. Not only will I guarantee she’ll like it, she’ll definitely be surprised.

I’ll bet in fifty years, when this is an accepted piece of Christmas tradition, I won’t even get credit for it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Speaker Centipede?

Nancy Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker of the House has been fraught with peril, with potential mutinies, missteps, and feet in mouth. This is an impressive record for someone who won’t even start work for three weeks yet.

Pelosi hit the ground running by trying to anoint John Murtha as Majority Leader. Steny Hoyer was in line for the job, but he and Pelosi had a falling out, and she apparently has some Irish in her family. (Define Irish Alzheimer’s Disease: All you remember are the grudges.) Murtha is a loyal Pelosi ally, and well-qualified as point man in the fight against Shrub’s Iraq policies. He also carries ethics scars from the Abscam scandal, making him an odd choice to lead a party allegedly dedicated to refuting the ethical malfeasance of the deposed Republican regime.

It was also a battle that didn’t need to be fought. Even if Pelosi had been able to shove Murtha down her peers’ throats, the resulting hard feelings could only hamper the Democrats’ hopes to make a quick start following up on their campaign promises. God knows they need it.

This did not bode well for a supposed master politician, but no one’s perfect. Pelosi’s recent actions with the House Intelligence Committee are downright scary.

Jane Harmon was the committee’s ranking minority member, thus in line for the chair. What being head Democrat of anything qualifies one for is debatable, considering their track record as the opposition party, but you don’t get to live with the politics you want, you have to live with the politics you have. (Where have we heard something like that before?)

Not in Nancy-land. Pelosi didn’t think Harmon had been hard enough on Shrub as ranking member, and decided to pass her over. This caused more hard feelings, but could be justified by the above paragraph. Pelosi’s new problem was that Alcee Hastings was next in line.

Hastings has been a newsworthy name far longer than his tenure in Congress, having been impeached and removed from his seat as a federal judge. He then won the Adam Clayton Powell Award by convincing his constituents that being removed as a judge for taking bribes was not a disqualification from further public service in Congress.

Given the furor over Murtha’s abortive nomination and ethics record, Pelosi didn’t dare submit Hastings’ name. This set off the Congressional Black Caucus, incensed because she passed over a brother. Granted, Hastings is as qualified as Duke Cunningham for the job, but Pelosi had pissed off another core constituency.

This brings us to her current choice, Silvestre Reyes, a member of the Intelligence Committee for several years. When asked by a reporter if al-Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite, Reyes replied, “Predominantly, probably Shiite.” Oops. Wrong. Reyes was then asked about Hezbollah. “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah?...Why do you ask me these questions

at 5 o'clock?'' Apparently punctuality is among Rep. Reyes’ virtues. Miller Time cannot be kept waiting.

Lest this come off like a hatchet job, here’s Reyes’ comment in his own defense: “It’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.” Just what you want to hear from one of the key people overseeing a war that has already killed 3,000 Americans.

Maybe these are the kinds of glitches that naturally occur when a party has been out of power for twelve years and isn’t used to as much media attention. Pelosi has already shot herself in her left and right feet. Does she have enough feet to get her through two years?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Curiouser and Curiouser

The first words phrase Republican babies are taught to speak is “less government is better.” Let’s see what this means in everyday usage.

History will show George W. Bush’s lasting legacy to the federal government to be the addition of a huge, inefficient, cabinet-level department that adds nothing to the agencies brought under its umbrella except an extra layer of bureaucracy, aka the Department of Homeland Security. It appears the only aspect of government diminished under Shrub’s expert guidance is the Constitution.

Social entitlement programs? Read what conservative icon George F. Will wrote in December 7th’s Washington Post: the leaked Donald Rumsfeld memo… echoed the 1960s Great Society confidence in government-engineered behavior modification: jobs programs for unemployed young Iraqis, reallocation of reconstruction funds to "stop rewarding bad behavior" and "start rewarding good behavior," and bribery ("provide money to key political and religious leaders").

Increase efficiency by running government like a business? Over half of those hired to work on the Coalition Provisional Authority, ostensibly to oversee the reconstruction of Iraq, obtained their first passport to make the trip to Baghdad. Two CPA staffers said they were asked their position on Roe v. Wade before they were hired. The traffic code the CPA wrote for Iraq had the following libertarian passages: “the driver shall hold the steering wheel with both hands;” and “rest should be taken for five minutes for every one hour of driving.” Try to pass a law requiring an American from driving an eighteen-wheeler less than fourteen hours a day and you’d think the only thing standing between our economy and Haiti’s was No-Doz.

I don’t have much to say about this. As Will himself says, “[it] would be hilarious were it not horrifying that so much valor and suffering have been expended in this context.” It’s just that every so often I can’t resist pointing out what hypocritical sons of bitches these guys are, have been, and will continue to be. Let’s hope the Democrats are better. Let’s face it, the bar’s been set low enough for even their flea-like efforts to be enough.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Press Release From The Home Office

The Home Office is proud to announce New Mystery's Reader's publication of the short story "Fringe Benefits." Go to the New Mystery Reader web site and click the December Short Story link at the right of screen.

Take a quick tour of the rest of the site while you're there. Lots of cool stuff. The November Review of the Month of Robert Wilson's The Hidden Assassins is also a product of The Home Office.

Thanks to Stephanie Padilla and everyone at NMR for their continued support.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Do Tuba-lieve in Miracles?

It's a well-known fact that the trumpets are the gods of the orchestra, and the trombones are the most manly. Tuba players are definitely the coolest, though. Check this out from today's Washington Post, and look for a Tuba Christmas event near you.