Monday, February 27, 2006

More From Your Wacky NM Green Party Clown

As mentioned in the last post, I am still a registered Green Party voter in New Mexico. I have not actually voted for a Green Party candidate in about six years, nor can I even recall any GP candidates since, well, six years ago. To give some indication of the strength of my Green Party affiliation, I offer this example.

Let's say that the Democratic Candidate against George W. Bush in 2004 had been Xaphan, Second Order Demon of Hell, whose job is to stoke the flames of the all-Unholy Underworld. And, let's also say that Ralph Nader was running as a Green Party candidate. Well, in that scenario I'm voting for Xaphan in a Hell-0n-Earth second. I'm crawling over people to vote for Xaphan. I'm kicking Green Party people out of the way, my Doc Martens quickly covered in the blood of GP members as I viciously scamper over them to get to the evil electronic voting machine.

As such, I'm pretty much your typical registered Green Party voter. Your circa-2006 GP voter goes Democratic unless it's some obscure race with a GP candidate stuck in it, or it's a slam-dunk Democrat going against a sure-loser Republican and a Green. In these cases we proudly shun complete allegiance to the vile Democratic Party, let our free voter registration flags fly and proudly press the GP candidate button. We feel so rebellious and so vital to the process. Take that, Two-Party System! Eat the Rich! Booyah!

A few days ago GP Head Honcho of sorts Carol Miller talked with about the Greens possibly running a candidate in U.S. House #1 against Heather Wilson and Patsy Madrid. This is interesting primarily because if there is anything real Green Party members can't stand it's Head Honchos or even Head Honchos of sorts. We can't stand 'em. We can't stand 'em so much that we'd rather vote for a candidate that is sure to lose, as that means our chosen candidate won't be a Head Honcho.

One way to tell we really don't go for Head Honchos is to visit the NM Green Party website. The visitor will quickly notice that 99.5% of the content on the site is about issues: Instant Runoff Voting, Environmental Sustainability, Social Justice, stuff like that. Finding the names of people supporting these issues is far more difficult. Take Carol Miller for instance..she's pretty much invisible without some hard-core site Googling. I understand she's no longer an officer with the NM GP, but it's a struggle knowing she ever was an officer or even a Green.

Similarly, I'd bet 90% of registered Greens don't even know who the current State co-chairs, John Otter and Kathy Sanchez, are. And we love it that way. Absolutely no cult of personality, in fact we have no personality. Best proof of this is the NN GP homepage itself. On it is a large picture of....a horned toad sitting on a rock. No Eugene V. Debs, no Ralph Nader, no Carol Miller...just a horny toad camouflaged on a boulder.

Strange then that political analysts and especially paranoid Democrats like to think of us GP voters as an organized block that can undercut a Democratic challenger at the slightest whim of our all-powerful cult leadership. The more accurate assessment is that:

1. The terms "organized" and "Green Party" are oxymoronic.

2. Simply put, many races in recent years have pitted a vaguely-evil Republican v. a unmistakably milquetoast brain-dead Democrat. A large number of voters, especially those wanting to point out this lack of real choice, would have voted for anybody or anything in these races. We would have voted for Barney the Dinosaur. Howie Mandel would have been considered. Even Chris Kattan could not have been ruled out in all cases. Having a Green Party affiliation for the candidate was nice, but Barney the Dinosaur could have been running on the Very Silly Party ticket and I personally would have voted for him over Phil Maloof in a "I Love You" heartbeat. Being a Green was just convenient.

But all that was before George W., especially 2nd term W with his execrable "political capital". Unlike those early care-free days of 2000, the thought of somebody on the Left voting for anything even tangentially related to W and his policies is unthinkable. And despite Heather's recent tap-dance away from W on NSA snooping and UAE ports, etc., I'd be surprised if 25 people would vote for a Green over a Democrat in U.S. House #1. And I'd be willing to lead an armed search party to go after the 25.

So what I'm saying is that we Greens are more of a non-factor than ever. Carol Miller's comments about a Green running against Patsy strike me as delusionally grandiose...strangely similar to just about everything W says these days. Hmmm...another Republican/Green Party connection. Anyway, despite our complete meaninglessness, I do want to close with a few actual advantages to being a registered Green in New Mexico.

  • You get to avoid signing tons of Democratic candidate signature petition requests at public rallies like the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. march.
  • You get to avoid signing Democratic candidate signature requests from this guy at my local gym who is constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY asking people to sign a Mary Herrera petition. Seemingly every single time I'm getting dressed at this gym this guy shuffles up with a clipboard and I get to say..."I'm registered Green". Every time it's like the guy heard it for the first time.
  • Let me repeat that: you get to avoid signing a Mary Herrera petition. Herrera is the single scariest candidate for any race, any party, this election cycle. She just might be Xaphan, Second Order Demon of Hell. At least her hair might be.
  • You never get a call, email or mailing from the New Mexico Democratic Party.
  • The NM Green Party is far too disorganized and broke to ever send you a call, email or mailing.
  • You're always the life of the party when the discussion gets to politics. Try this for yourself: invent your own Green Party affiliation by stating your strong support of the GP candidate for NM State Auditor in 2006. Completely make up a Green candidate name and biography and invent a few important positions from this imaginary candidate. Be sure to mention that this candidate may well run for Governor down the road and is "a politician to watch" as the Greens revive themselves into Major Party Status. See if anyone says, "yeah, I know that person. I think I voted for them in 2002 for Land Commissioner." Extra points if you're mistaken party colleague starts rattling off positions for the fake candidate.
Lastly, I'm aware that I am just one registered Green voter, and don't represent the Party, or any of its other members. Which is just as well. History has shown that the Green Party is harsh on the Republicans, very harsh on the Democrats but Stalin Show Trial-esque harsh on its fellow Party members. As the Woody Allen joke goes, it's like the Mafia... it really only kills its own. Especially in 2006.

A NM Green Party Clown Speaks Out: Part I

Hey Everybody! I'm the ever-kooky, irascible, often irritable NM Green Party Clown! Invite me to your next Political Party and I can make you either really, really happy or incredibly sad. But who needs invitations? Usually I just crash the 'ol two-party shindig, spreading my irresistable desire for political entropy while stamping my big feet about the unfairness of the "system".

Actually, I'm not a clown, clowns really creep me out and I hate the Circus with a passion. I am, however, a registered NM Green. Still crazy after all these years, and still just as relevantly irrevelant. I joined the merry band back in the Green Party heyday when candidates like Marvin Gladstone were pulling numbers significant enough to get us Greens "Major Party Status" while also not even coming remotely close to winning anything.

It was a heady, yet headless time back then. Not it's just pretty much headless and a complete waste of time. Yet despite our utter political flaccidity, many folks, especially hard-core Democrats, see the Green Party as an evil on par with how Stalin saw Trotsky. The mere mention of the color, or the equally evil word Nader, raises Olympic-level hackles at sites like DailyKos. We are held responsible for everything from Bush in '00 to Heather every two years.
Now Joe Monahan brings up in a recent entry that the Greens are considering a run for U.S. House #1 against Heather, but principally against the perceived-as-evil Patsy Madrid. Monahan characterizes Greens as a "dominant virus", the first time I can ever recall the word "dominant" used as an adjective to define NM Greens.

Now what about this "dominant virus"? Are we Greens still capable of infecting political races, putting Republicans in office, while leaving Democrats crippled, yelping words like "traitors", "turncoats" and "Trotsky"?

Before tackling those questions, I , just like my Green Party brethren, must now pointlessly leave you at this time. But later today I hope to outline why I am still a Green, what advantages being a Green has in social situations, and the up-to-now secret Green Party handshake. Be sure to bring your decoder rings and wear your patchouli.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Few Last Words (until the next cable modem recycle)

Help! Cable Modem crapping out! Can't keep head above Surf...have to recycle modem every three minutes! Irritation level, maximum! Must not throw modem through win....


Update: Put Cable Modem in Freezer for 20 minutes. Literally. It's worked now for about an hour and a half straight. Of course this update will immediately jinx things and require me to pack the modem in frozen peas and corn for the rest of the afternoon.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dear God: If You Make it Snow and Stick to the Roadsurfaces...

The End of February is a magical time of year for all school teachers, a time where we all spend about 1/2 of all non-teaching hours at Orbitz mapping out our Summer Vacations. Yes we love our jobs. Yes we are passionate about student learning and the subjects we teach. And yes, we dig the hell out of those Summers off.

Many non-teachers complain about the fact that we get 12-13 weeks off every Summer, and it is an unspoken rule in the teaching fraternity not to gloat too much about our Summers off. Well, I'm gloating. I'm committing full-blown gloaticide, gloatbezzlement and gloatortion. Summers off rock and we teachers and everybody in Europe get them.

And no I don't think it's fair. I have a pet theory about the American psyche, one that says a sizable portion of our collective rage and violence could be ameliorated if everybody got Summers off. We should try it as a culture just once, and until that legislation passes I urge my non-teacher friends to give it a shot. Take the Summer off. You'll never go back, even if it means a few more ramen dinners and a newfound love for cheaper bottles of wine, the ones on the lowest rack at Jubilation.

The scene over at Orbitz is pretty ugly this year. Prices are higher and there seem to be more overseas flights with 20 hour layovers than I remember from past late-February Orbitz binges. As the Europeans don't really get started with vacation until late June, prices don't really spike until that time in many markets. That's got some teachers thinking of heading off at the end of May, right smack after the ending of the school year.

Which gets me to "Snow Days". If education and much of our society was really "all about the kids" we as a nation would put a stop to Global Warming (hell, the U.S. causes 25% of the problem, minimum) if for no other reason than to maintain the cherished childhood ritual of Snow Days.

Adults, think back to your own childhood and I'm betting most of your attempts at some sort of religious connection to God from ages 7-15 were spent praying for snow on a school night. Of course the kids nascent religious practices haven't changed, but in Albuquerque at least, those prayers are now going unanswered at a climatologically unprecendented rate.

Since I began teaching in 1993, the number of APS Snow Days has plummeted to the point of non-existence. The term "Snow Days" is one step from the Museum of Dead Language, along with "Close-n-Play" "Lotus 1-2-3" and "put on my turn signal".

What's this got to do with my late-February Orbitz obsession? Well, APS scheduling tacks two days on every school calendar year as make-up for Snow Days. Taking a day off from teaching is always discouraged, but taking the last day or two off of a school year is considered extremely bad form. But Orbitz is showing that I can save $300 on a flight to one of the 125 cities I am currently considering for a vacation if I book the outbound flight on one of the Snow Days.

It's almost the end of February. What's the chance of a Snow Day? We haven't had a full Snow Day since when, 2002? I can't remember. Last year just when it seemed a Snow Day would never come we had some freakish mid-day snow event that led a panicking APS to declare a half-day Snow Day. But those don't count as Snow Days on the calendar.

Oh, the strategizing. When it comes down to it, if you have to bet you simply have to go with the overwhelming favorite and bet on there not being a Snow Day. I mean, what are the odds? It's a depressing bet to place, though. We teachers were once kids once, and even as adults we in the teaching fraternity have another unwritten rule that we're not supposed to admit how much we love Snow Days. God we love them. Especially if they happen during Testing. Don't even get us started on Testing.

The upshot is that I'm placing my bet on no Snow Day, well probably. I still have about 125 more flight combinations to obsess over at Orbitz before placing my final wager.

Update: Alert reader Evan has pointed out that APS DID have a Snow Day last year, which was confirmed by a post at NewMexiKen from March 15, 2005. Given my slipping mental recall, I think I'll need to make sure I write down everything here at the blog as a way to force myself to remember. Note to self one: You ate too much cake today and almost threw up. Don't forget that months from now. Stop eating so much cake.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And Here's a Photo of the Front, Left Side of the House, Looking From the Street

We've been getting too serious around here lately. Time to stop focusing on cartoon protests and ridiculous uses of taxpayer money and get to what's real. As in really bad web sites. Remember "Mirsky's Worst of the Web (WOTW)"? Those who've been 'Net surfing since the mid-90s may remember that WOTW was one of the most popular humor sites at a time before The Onion, The Borowitz Report, or even Google (whatever happened to Altavista?). A primitive, anarchical time in which a guy could have a popular site simply by looking at a bunch of web sites everyday and posting a link to the stuipidest one. And that's what Mirsky did.

It helped that in those days hundreds, then thousands, then millions of people around the world we're getting hooked on the web, and finding out they could create vanity pages about any insipid, non-publication ready topic they could think of, usually themselves and their babies. So a huge slab of folks were all learning HTML simultaneously and sharing their jags of daily learning with the world. The learning was uneven and largely served to prove that most people are aesthetically deprived and extremely self-centered.

It was a great time. Really. And Philip Mirsky, whomever that was/is, brought the nadir of the ever-evolving world collection of flashing text, midi file embedded, baby picture loaded badness to us. And you gotta believe there was alot of bad to share.

In doing some checking I found that there is now a "Worst of the Web" site, but it's not even close to the original. A few others are also keeping up the eternal hunt for badness and it is from one of these places that I found a candidate that really brings back the uber-awfulness of pages from the mid-90s in a way I haven't seen in ages. It just about brings a nostalgic tear to my eye looking at the Hudson Valley Youth Soccer League's Internet Site.

In case you missed it, here it is again: The Hudson Valley Youth Soccer League's Internet Site.

Hey Ol' 'Nettimers, doesn't that page bring back some memories? Good awful times, my man, good awful times. I especially like that you have to click on the Twin Towers to get to the League Schedule page, not to mention the soccerball turning into Santa Claus rollover.

I wonder if Ruby Montana's is ever gonna start selling these pages? Ruby's knows kitsch and Hudson Valley Youth Soccer League's Internet Site is kitsch at its finest. You mean Ruby's closed?!? Man, I'm getting old. And I'm making obscure references like some old guy mumbling at a busstop. At least I have Hudson Valley Youth Soccer League's Internet Site. That's all I really need. Hey, can I get some change for the bus?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cartoon Bombs and Free Expression-Lite

Let us freely admit it, almost nothing brings American Liberals and Conservatives together like Muslims protesting cartoons. In a political age where words like consensus and bi-partisan are almost never found, a bunch of foreigners burning everything in sight and killing folks over some drawings helps to bring us together in a way only exceeded by the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01.

We political types can't even agree on natural disasters, using Hurricane Katrina as just another opponent-bashing talking point, but foreign people freaking out over a cartoon is the perfect coalescent for U.S. Arch-Liberals, who value freedom of speech over just about everything else, and Arch-Conservatives who may not value freedom of speech much, but sure as Hell value their own religion over all others. Meanwhile, those more Moderate among us can't understand why anybody would get all that hot-n-bothered about anything. Hell, Moderates don't even vote, much less take the time to burn flags and flip windows-shattered cars over.

At the same time, there is a strong disinclination for any U.S. politician to come out and say what is on our collective mind at this point. The delicacy of the situation in that nobody wants to be the next country on the radical Muslim shit list has even largely silenced the U.S. media and its columnists.

To further confirm this point, your humble blogger started a 14-day trial of "Times Select" at the NY Times, scanning the now-premium columnist's pieces for mentions on the brouhaha (okay, full disclosure, I mainly did it to read a Sarah Vowell essay). Unfortunately, Frank Rich is busy writing a book, but I can report that outside of a passing remark by Maureen Dowd there was no mention in recent days about anything Muslim, Dutch or flag burning-esque. I know relying on the NY Times as a "paper of record" is a flimsy methodological pretense these days, but I also scanned Google News and failed to see any real expression of what is on our collective minds. I got no real expression of Western opinion, just alot of pictures of burning stuff. Btw, the Sarah Vowell piece was wonderful, but I'll pay $49.95 for web content the day they force my dead, cold fingers to type out my credit card number. It's just a two-week trial.

The careful reader might have noticed that I have twice said "what is on our collective minds" without saying exactly what is on said minds. That's because I too have experienced this same sort of mental keyboard lock-up when it comes to publicly expressing myself on the subject. For instance, the other day I wrote one of my alleged humor columns in which I tried some joke line about the Reappearance of Jesus and other religious figures. My original line included Mohammed, but I changed it to Buddha at the last minute.

What is up with that? As someone who values freedom of speech as highly as anyone I cringe that I even admitted the self-editing above. It fully creeps me out. I think it's emblematic of everything this country is against. Still, I'm not going there, and I'm thinking of taking out the name Mohammed in the previous paragraph just to avoid the chance somebody somewhere will Google Blog this meaningless, piss-ant little excuse for writing and go flip a burning car in Kuala Lumpur.

There is something insidious and alien about the whole matter, something that not only brings us U.S. folks together politically in a rather unique way, but also goes to show how foolhardy it was for us to think "American Democracy" could be grafted onto other cultures as easily as a new branch on a pine tree. Perhaps I'm being overly political and idealistic here, but maybe this episode will galvanize us to the realization of not only how different freedom of expression is taken elsewhere, but that trying to paternalistically force-feed concepts on those who think so differently was essentially stupid to begin with. Maybe we'll really learn this time.

Again, I might be a bit idealistic here.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

UNM Athletics: More Pork than Just Pigskins

At this point I'm wondering if mere cloudiness is as close to precipitation we're gonna get this year in ABQ, and that reminds me to point out what I think is the single stupidest approved (pending Gov. line item veto) capital outlay project I've seen so far:

UNM Athletics is getting $6.1 million to build a new indoor football practice field

"Indoor"? In New Mexico? For Spring Football and Football Season? Are ya kidding me? Never mind the reality that we ended up underfunding things like meth rehab clinics and West Side school construction. Or that state funding of university athletics should be somewhere below rodeo arenas and equestrian centers on the list of funding priorities (oh that got funded, too).

I just can't get past the need for an "indoor" facility. I'm thinking hard here, in part because I've seen absolutely no public/media discussion of this particular pork project. Evidently dissing or even having some debate on the Lobos is socially unacceptable. Well call me a leper because even though I watch the occasional Lobos football game I can't for the life of me think of why we'd need an indoor football practice field in our perfect weather, low-humidity environment. Isn't the middle Rio Grande Valley basically just one huge indoor football practice facility?

Is it because it's too hot in Summer? Well, for far less than $6.1 million we could cut practices off early at 11 a.m. in the summer and just give the players $50 spending money a day to go make trouble around town. $100 if you're a starter. Or we could spend a couple of million on a state-of-the-art football film room so the players could sit on $2500 Italian chairs and sip Tuscan mineral water all afternoon while watching films of Air Force kicking their ass last year.

Of course those are great money-saving ideas, but after thinking about it a while I think I might have the real reason UNM is getting a $6.1 million indoor football practice field. This wouldn't have anything to do with that "bowl game" ($$) Big Bill's staff and UNM folks had a secret meeting about a week or so ago, would it? ($$) We wouldn't be spending $6.1 million of money certainly spent better elsewhere on the off chance that 'Burque could host the "Payday Loans Chile Bowl", would we?

Of course we don't know for two reasons: 1. Big Bill's staffers meeting with UNM officials was secret; 2. the local press (as far as I can tell) focused completely on how terrible it was for Big Bill to have a secret meeting and not much time finding out what the secrets were exactly. If I missed something here, please let me know and I'll apologize with great profusion.

Well, whatever the reason we evidently got ourselves a new indoor football practice field. Perhaps overcrowded APS schools could rent out the field for classrooms when the team (or a bowl team) isn't using it. Maybe one end zone on the field could be turned into a small temporary out-patient meth rehab clinic when the ball is on the other side of the field.

Regardless, as for now the outlay for the field is the stupidest single expense I've found so far, knowing of course that the truly bizarre approved capital outlay won't be known until the budgetary dust settles some time from now. Meanwhile, as for UNM Athletics the $6.1 million for the field wasn't even half of what they got. They also $8 million to renovate and expand "The Pit". I don't have the energy to tackle that one right now. I think I'll just go to the corner and shake my head uncontrollably for a while.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

29+ Days to a Better New Mexico

Congratulations New Mexico Legislators! With only a few hours until the final gavel for the session you've largely proven that the government-phobic NM Constitutional designers were successful: you pretty much haven't done jack caca in 29+ days (by the way, I think the "Jack Caca" has been named official New Mexico rodent this session).

That's not to say you haven't done anything. You've debated having a State Cowboy Song, including a listen to the proposed tune on the floor of the House. The Senate has done its share, discussing the vital issue of a State Cookbook. Both houses have spent hours and hours in floor sessions introducing guests, pages and assorted other catatonically bored young people on the floor and in the gallery, bored because you've spent hours introducing them. You've also invested serious time talking about webcasting upcoming Legislative sessions so 'Net junkies can watch catatonically bored young people get introduced.

Okay, that's a bit unfair. You have tackled some real "issues" in the last 29+ days. For instance, you rushed through vital legislation to deal with the rampant "cyber hunting" problem, despite the fact most Senators didn't know what it is. Don't worry, only about 5 NM citizens know what it is, too. But something's got to be done. Then, to give the ACLU something to do, you passed, actually passed, a bill authorizing mandatory DNA samples for those ARRESTED for a felony. Aw, gettin' arrested is pretty much the same as convicted, ain't it?

To be honest, what you've spent more time doing than anything is thinking up fascinating ways to divvy up the pork windfall. Looking at the now 156 page Capital Outlay Request list is testimony to what great leaders can do, if those great leaders have a big barrel of cash staring them in the face. Remember Senator Proxmire at the U.S. level some years back? He's the one that would list the stupidest pork legislation passed by the U.S. Congress and have a little humorous Razzies Awards Show press conference. Well if Senator Proxmire hadn't just passed away last December, he'd die laughing looking at the 156 page list.

And that's before we told him about how we're building a "space port" so rich folks can spend outrageous amounts of money going into space for an hour or so while looking down at just about the poorest state in the nation. Poor and getting legislatively poorer.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Natural Born Accidental Killers

News of the Vice-President accidentally shooting a hunting colleague reminds me how sick I am of...


and this

and this

and this ($$)

and all the other deaths caused by our society-wide obsession with guns. These days it's very uncool to even bring gun control up. Notice how nobody is doing so now, either nationally or in 'Burque. Guns and gun deaths are treated as nothing but unavoidable accidents, part of the price of the right to bear arms.

A story yesterday in the NY Times reports that cities around the country are noting dramatic spikes in murders over things like vital life-and-death stuff like soap dishes, cell phones and "looking at my girl the wrong way".

The story mentions that law enforcement officials cite loosening gun control laws as a factor in the increase.

I'm one of those weird leftists who doesn't trust the government much, only when it's apparent the average citizenry is too stupid to trust itself. It's crystal clear obvious that when it comes to guns folks are just plain stupid. That includes being too stupid to prevent teenagers and doddering old Vice-Presidents from having gun access.

Something needs to be done, regardless of how uncool and "old school" this sentiment sounds these days.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Drowning By Budget Numbers

I'm spending a few minutes this evening going through some particulars of the Bush Admin. 2007 proposed budget, while also contemplating today's NY Times story by James Glanz entitled "Iraq Utlities Are Falling Short of Prewar Performance" (reg. req.). I find the numbers numbing as usual, but also interesting.

First, large snippets from the article (sorry they are large snippets, but the whole article is chock full of assorted madness)...

"Virtually every measure of the performance of Iraq's oil, electricity, water and sewerage sectors has fallen below preinvasion values even though $16 billion of American taxpayer money has already been disbursed in the Iraq reconstruction program, several government witnesses said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Wednesday.

This downsizing of expectations was striking given that $30 billion American taxpayer money has already been dedicated to the task... Of that money, $23 billion has already been obligated to specific rebuilding contracts, and $16 billion of that amount has been disbursed.

... another $40 billion in Iraqi oil money and seized assets of Saddam Hussein regime was also made available for reconstruction and other tasks at one time or another. Last week, Robert J. Stein Jr., one of four former United States government officials in Iraq who have been arrested in a bribery and kickback scheme involving that money, pleaded guilty to federal charges.

Mr. Bowen (Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an independent office) pointed out in his testimony that the news on reconstruction in Iraq is not all bad. Despite the recent financing and performance shortfalls, the rebuilding program now seems to be much less ridden by fraud, corruption and chaos than it was in the early days when people like Mr. Stein were in charge."


Of course I suggest you read the entire article, especially if you want to experience the mental equivalent of slamming your head into a concrete wall repeatedly for several hours. Bewildering stuff. Stuff that is just about worth the use of horribly overused terms like "shocking" "unbelievable" and "Orwellian".

But watching Administration Budget Director Joshua Bolton on C-SPAN yesterday got me thinking about the Iraq story in a different way. What if we take the "$30 billion in American taxpayer money already dedicated to the task" of Iraq rebuilding and compare it with allocations for this and that in the Bush proposed budget?

For instance, that $30 billion equals over four times the proposed 2007 discretionary budget authority of the Environmental Protection Agency ($7.3 billion), is almost two times the 2006 NASA budget of $16.8 billion and just about equals the budgets of the federal Departments of Labor ($10.9 billion), Transportation ($13.2 billion) and the Interior ($10.1 billion) combined.

Hell, the $30 billion is every bit as large as our own "Homeland Security" Department, ($30.9 billion when you take the Defense overlap portion out of it).

Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the requested cuts to non-DoD departments in the budget proposal equal $10.7 billion. That means the absolutely essential we gotta have it right this second belt-tightening in the budget could be avoided three times over if we just didn't have this $30 billion going to Iraq.

When faced with these numbers you don't have to be a "Don't Tread on Me" "Live Free or Die" whack-job Libertarian/Isolationist to ask the simple question: What the Hell is going on here? The President proposes cutting domestic programs pretty much across the board, while Iraq reconstruction gets $30 billion despite the fact that it hasn't worked for squat so far?

And we're not even talking about the obscenely larger amount going to the military aspects of the occupation, only the guilt money couch change we're inadequately scraping together to appear humanitarian ex post smart bombo facto. The paradox of how a huge amount like $30 billion can be thought of as inadequate doesn't make sense on many levels, but is based on the fact that trying to play a kid's dream combination of "Political Tooth Fairy" and "Army Men" on a massive scale is expensive to the point of lunacy.

It's hard to see how anybody of any political stripe wouldn't be pissed off after taking a look at these numbers. Conservatives know down deep in their frugal hearts that this Iraq spending is insanity. Many Moderates can't like that even the overly optimistic Administration deficit estimates don't reach anywhere close to zero by even 2011. Liberals and other Moderates abhor the cuts in domestic programs. And the "Don't Tread on Me" Libertarian/Isolationists are probably stocking up on ammunition and heading for the secret compound at this point.

I don't really have a cute closer to this...just look at the article here and the budget proposal tables here. There's really nothing at all cute about them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Have a Gub, Abt Natural

“The police say, although they take all these sorts of things seriously, they don't take this as credible mostly because of all the misspellings,” --Rigo Chavez, APS Spokesperson, referring to a graffiti "hit list" posted in the Highland High School gymnasium, as quoted on the KRQE site.

Sometimes the inane comments of others demand a 1,000 word tirade with pictures. Then there are times when the inanity of the original cannot be enhanced by any attempt at satire. The latter case is absolutely defined by the comment above. It will remain remarked upon no further.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In Which Heather Is Compared With Certain Hollywood Stars of the Past

So I doing the daily blog digestion cycle when I run across the strange graphic above (authentically reproduced from this site...scroll down to see the "original"). I wouldn't recommend staring at it too long, but two things become instantly noticeable:

  1. Heather's neck has gone beyond mere Audrey Hepburn length to become some sort of "Aliens"-type connection between body and head. Looking as closely as possible at the horrifying sight, it appears as if she is gazing at the embattled Sigourney Weaver while grinding two godforsakenly inept anti-Aliens soldiers into dust with her pincer claws.

To refresh the memory of those who don't remember the original creature:

Yeah, I know, I know, it is far easier to stomach the picture of the actual "Alien" creature, even with the sharp, pointed nasty teeth and remembrance about the whole coming out of John Hurt's stomach thing. That just goes to show that Hollywood may have big budgets and creative special effects people, but you just can't beat the world of Politics for ghoulish horror.

2. The slogan for "Blogs for Heather" is "Together we can stop Nancy Pelosi's takeover of Congress!". Now this is where we on the Left and Far Left need to quietly tip-toe down the hall and avoid commenting on what must surely be the LOUSIEST CAMPAIGN SLOGAN SINCE GERALD FORD'S "WHIP INFLATION NOW"! Shh....don't say anything and maybe they won't notice that:

  • if surveyed, most Americans would state their belief that Nancy Pelosi is host of a Food Network Show.
  • if they simply replaced "Nancy Pelosi" with "Hillary Clinton", Bubba NASCAR would go from "who's that?" to "that bitch!" faster than a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pit stop.
  • if they stick with Nancy Pelosi those at "blogs for Heather" and other Right Republican sites might actually have to deal with Pelosi after the 2006 elections instead of just laughing their collective asses off while she uselessly screams about "corruption", "lies" and other associated nonsense.

In sum, I urge all those who wish for the overthrow of Heather Longneck to copy/paste the current "Blogs for Heather" ad prominently in all blogs, email correspondence, refrigerator doors (where it may well serve as an additional dieting aid), worker break rooms, bowling alleys, post offices and as replacement for Ron Bell billboards. Let's see this baby EVERYWHERE, at least until those Republicans decide that "Whip Pelosi Now" is working only to raise Food Network ratings as people search for her show on Italian cooking.

By the way, regardless of one's political views, one really should click through to the site "Blogs for Heather" goes to. I don't want to ruin it for ya, but in just a few graphics and buzzwords it quickly captures the essential Pol Pot-level anti-intellectualism of today's hard-core Republicans. You really can see the next stage in the current administration as they line up those wearing glasses (sunglasses excepted) and lead them off to the re-education farms. Glasses do make you look smart, after all.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monahan Punkd?

Update 2/6/06, 11:37 P.M: Apparently, JoeMonahan's site is working for some and not working for others. Maybe it's my Mozilla/Firefox browser, but I'm still not seeing it. And I've only checked 7.2 million times today. My operatives who have gotten into the site tell me that Mr. Monahan's most recent entry focuses on Sen. Beffort. No word yet from my operatives, code name "Team Bootlicker", on whether the Senator prefers to be called "Punky", however. Now off to go find Joe a few more thousand times before I fall exhausted and unfulfilled into a fitful slumber...

Since JoeMonahan's site is still down/hacked/"Burgosed" whatever, the state desperately needs a political gossip blog this morning. Mega exciting news is being made, such as the announcement that the Republican Party found a Lt. Gov. candidate in the fascinating Sue Wilson Beffort, but this news falls flat without Monahan's plucky zest for name dropping and Variety meets Robert Novak writing style.

And don't start looking at me, New Mexico, for this kind of stuff. All I got is this '80s hair band picture of Beffort from the state website (can anyone say "Punky Whips"?) with the proto-hip-hop arm-crossing thing. I can not tell you that I had lunch with Punky....ur, Sue Wilson, nor do I even know if she goes by Sue, Sue Wilson or Punky.

Oh, and I can make obscure Frank Zappa song references, a trait not much in call these days by those looking for political tidbits. In other words, I got nothing. But I do have a picture of Punky Meadows.

See, the resemblance isn't even that great. In this, our time of intense 30-day session need, we cry out for Joe Monahan. Joe? Where are you? Who did you meet at that cocktail party last Saturday? Is it "Sue" or "Sue Wilson"? We're beggin' ya.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Brain Activity, Seven-Layer Dip and the "Super Bowl"

The quickest way to start recovering from a sports addiction is "Super Bowl Sunday". As someone who spent some quality Saturday time yesterday brainwave-deprived on the couch watching the riveting Wichita State v. Southern Illinois State basketball game, I can definitely claim a level of addiction. There is a certain baby-in-the-womb feeling for us sports junkies, blankly staring at the ball and players going up and down the court, as we sprawl on the couch enveloped in a placenta of complete meaninglessness.

True, it's the same addiction as those who can't get off the Internet or "Amercian Idol", but sports does have it's own side-effects and impacts on society, most of which we sports junkies never like to think about. Then there's "Super Bowl Sunday", and every awful thing about sports is thrust into our face like gory photos of alcohol-related fatal car crashes forced upon an alcoholic.

Where to start? about the commercialization? The idol worship totally out of sync with what constitutes idols and heroes? Maybe a focus on how the game is supposed to dictate life not only for those who watch, but everyone else as we call everything "Super Bowl ....", as in "Super Bowl Blog Entry", "Super Bowl Breakfast Specials" and "Super Bowl Murder Rate Increase Stories"? Did I mention the commercialization?

Those are all irritating to the extreme, but let's face it sports junkies, the worst aspect of "Super Bowl Sunday" is that it's a day for amateurs. We who can remember watching the tail end of 42-0 blowouts on Sunday Night Football three months ago are now surrounded by the ultimate in bandwagon jumpers who wouldn't sit five minutes for a "regular season" game. Where we're used to having a Sunday alone with a few beers and a Fox NFL doubleheader, now we have "Super Bowl Watching Parties" with stupid things like seven-layer dip and conversations about which commercial is the funniest. Who cares about the commercials? We sports junkies know that commercials exist to give us a chance to switch to CBS for the Broncos game and maybe the NFL Network for an update on stats for our fantasy team.

But of course there is no other game. Not even basketball, or hockey, or my wife's least favorite televised activity, golf. Nothing. ESPN is running, as per normal, figure skating during "The Game". In other years it's been endless loop repeats of Cheerleading Championships and 9-ball tournaments. In other words, nothing.

Now for some full disclosure:
  1. I haven't watched the Super Bowl in its entirety since I was a kid and a Roger Staubach was the Cowboys' quarterback.
  2. I have never attended a "Super Bowl Party".
  3. I'm not really much of a NFL football fan.
Now some of you might be saying, "A Ha (or AHA, or A ha), Scot how can you get off criticizing "Super Bowl Sunday" when you don't even watch it?!? (or !?!) You obviously just don't get it!" To which I reply, it's exactly because of the Super Bowl that I am not much of a NFL fan. Maybe it took the "Big Game" to finally get through my brainwave-deprived skull, but the NFL is about everything but the game. It's about celebrating between the plays more than making them, it's about the commercials running every few plays, acting as their own little celebrations. It's about the friggin' Rolling Stones at halftime instead of the Highland High Marching Band from Pensacola, Florida. It's about incessant promos for whatever lame-ass Heather Graham sit com will be following the post-game and post-post-game shows.

Let's face it, the "Super Bowl" is as close to a completely successful consumer brainwashing project as we have in this country. And we're supposed to celebrate that? Just as you should never trust any legislation that is favored by all legislators, never trust or involve yourself in something that "everybody is doing". The "Super Bowl" shows that, given enough seven-layer dip and some cute commercials, Amercans are just as likely to fall for a totalitarian government.

All that is needed is to subtly change the irrational love from the Steelers to "ending tyranny on the Earth" and we'd be making the Iraq Occupation look like Lunch Detention in about five minutes. I can only thank whatever God, Goddess or Probability existing in the world that has somehow prevented the "State of the Union" from taking on "Super Bowl Sunday" proportions. I don't want to give President W or any future President ideas, but maybe some Budweiser commercials and seven-layer dip would do the trick. And screw the standing ovations, the Prez has got to break out the endzone celebration when he/she makes a point.

So, anyway. What I'm saying is that yesterday I'm sitting brainwave-deprived on the couch when it occurs to me that maybe watching Wichita State v. Southern Illinois State play basketball is a waste of time. Maybe even these dinky unheralded basketball games share the fascistic tendencies of the "Super Bowl". Maybe every sporting event has as it's core a slavish worship to supposed idols, a time-wasting obsession with what is really just a game of chance made to appear intentional, the observation of a sublimated battle in which we take sides and desire the obliteration of a needlessly invented enemy.

I thought that, or something sorta like that, before I got up from the couch to go do the dishes. But first, I had to check out the score in the UConn/Indiana game, and the Kansas State/Oklahoma State game, and the Arizona/UCLA game. I went through the other channels, but no other games were on. So I got up and did those dishes.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Short Day at the RoundCircus

The co-teachers and I took about 120 students to the multi-ring circus that is the Roundhouse yesterday. The kids seemed to have a good time being engulfed into the madness, got introduced at the Senate floor session (along with about 947 FFA members, 23 Senate pages and shadows, and a 2nd grader dolled up in a fancy suit that everybody went "aaahhh" over), and got to pepper Senate Judiciary Chair Cisco McSorley for about 45 minutes on how the medical marijuana is going get to those who need it and where does he get off telling middle schoolers how to eat.

And, as far as I know, no students died, and we didn't leave anybody up there to be pigeonholed by lobbyists in Winnie-the-Pooh ties and multiple cellphones about why kids need to support the Spaceport. That being the case, you gotta call it a successful "field trip".

Along the way we also:

  • Saw Bernalillo County Commissioner Alan Armijo crossing the street, okay actually jaywalking, but this is New Mexico (so no scoop there).
  • Heard now-famous Senator John Grubesic make self-deprecating remarks on the Senate floor about chances for his Capital Outlay projects now that his mini-memoir came out in the New Mexican about how the whole Big Bill boot-licking process works. The guy has a sense or humor even if he doesn't have a chance in hell.
  • Saw Big Bill himself at a noontime ceremony behind some Mexica dancers strutting their stuff while Bill appeared rather upset to be missing lunch.
  • Saw first hand that despite our relative urbanity in ABQ and SF, there are just a whole lot of hicks in this State and many of them are running it. The endless "introductions" section of the Senate floor session included multiple good 'ole boys talking Texan about this, that and the t'other. I noticed that my "inner city" ABQ students were not really getting the plentiful jokes from the rural Senators. I don't think they were missing anything.
There's more, but it's now time to celebrate my teaching profession by attending a stupefyingly boring "in-service" about this, that and the t'other. Good thing we teachers have field trips like the one yesterday to get through the soul crushing mega-ennui of "teacher training". Meanwhile, in the real world it's a Friday...have a good one, whether you're standing outside Intel protesting the traffic jam that is the new, improved President "screw the Middle East, the U.S. is addicted to oil" Bush, or doodling alongside me during hour five of "curricular mapping".