Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Minnesota Supreme Court: Franken “Is Entitled”

Just out this afternoon is the Minnesota State Supreme Court’s decision that former SNL writer, performer, and darling of the left wing, Al Franken, has won the election to the US Senate. Here is the text found at the end of the Court’s opinion:

“For all of the foregoing reasons, we affirm the decision of the trial court that Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota.22. Affirmed.”

So is it time to break out the champagne and party poppers?

I personally don’t think so, but that is my nature – to doubt. Always to expect the worst. Because when it comes to being spiteful and underhanded losers, expecting the worst from Republicans is not such a bad bet.

Think about it. The Senate is in recess for the 4th of July and won’t reconvene until Monday, July 6th. That’s the earliest date that Al Franken can be sworn in and officially take his seat. That’s almost a whole week to cook up an appeal to a more sympathetic US Supreme Court. A court that has a reputation for overturning elections.

Think about it. While the Secretary of State of Minnesota is a Democrat and would have no qualms signing Franken’s certification, Governor Tim Pawlenty is a Republican and would put himself under a severe lens from the right wing of his party if he also signs the certification that would give Democrats a filibuster-proof Senate. It would all but kill his chances at the Republican nomination for President in 2012, nomination from a field whose numbers are slowly dwindling.

But wait, you say, Tim Pawlenty has gone on record as saying that as Minnesota’s governor, he would be bound by his state’s Supreme Court’s decision and would have to sign the certification if he is ordered to do so by the Court.

And that is the reason you have to read the decision, especially their last statement that I reproduced above.

Because they didn’t order Pawlenty to sign the certification.

They merely said that Al Franken was “entitled” to it.

Who knows what will eventually happen. Coleman could just throw up his hands and take the third strike in his career (1. losing to a professional wrestler, 2. winning against a corpse, 3. losing to a comedian) and fade back into the woodwork. Pawlenty could just give in and say “I’ll sign that sucker, nobody’s going to beat Obama in 2012 anyway, where’s a pen?”

Yeah, all of that could just happen.

But I’d be really surprised if it did.

UPDATE: Now we hear that Coleman has opted for strike three and has conceded. I guess this takes Pawlenty off the hook as well.

The fat lady is clearing her throat.

UPDATE 2: ... and will apparently belt out her tune later on tonight. Pawlenty says he is going to sign the certification later on tonight. Apparently Al Franken IS good enough.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Supremes Vote for Frivolous Lawsuits

Overturning a ruling that was upheld by Supreme Court Justice Candidate Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court today, in a 5 to 4 decision, rewrote the rules on how and when municipalities can evaluate whether someone is going to sue them.

The Court ruled that the City of New Haven, Connecticut cannot exercise its prerogative in anticipating racial bias lawsuits.

The case had to do with a test that was taken by Black, White and Hispanic firefighters to qualify them for promotion. No Black test taker passed the test, but 20 White test takers did. Anticipating that use of this test to decide who gets a promotion would be seen as a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, resulting in subsequent litigation, the City of Hartford decided to trash the test.

In writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy put it this way:

“Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations ad qualified for promotions”

The City of New Haven, in being vigilant and with a sense of fair play, was simply covering itself. They were providing a safety valve to avoid an unpleasantness. Because, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote, racial bias has had a long historical relationship with fire departments.

So now, when this happens again, and it will, there must actually be a lawsuit filed alleging racial bias before cities can act.

This decision by these 5 conservative justices on the Supreme Court has virtually ensured an increase in race bias lawsuits from coast to coast.

Has ensured that municipalities will have to pay more in legal fees to defend themselves.

Has ensured that lawyers will file more lawsuits, maybe frivolous lawsuits, thus gumming up the court systems even more than they are already.

The only people that win in this are the 20 White firefighters.

And, oh yeah, lawyers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

An Opportunity to Say “Bloviate”

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t learn something new and today was no exception. The lesson came early in the day.

Watching George Stefanopoulos’ news and politics show This Week this morning, I listened as Obama advisor David Axlerod used a word that I had never heard before.


It was in this context:

AXELROD: Well, first of all, you know, let's be clear that we didn't meddle in the election in Iran. The dispute in Iran is between the leadership in Iran and their own people, and plainly, Mr. Ahmadinejad thinks that by -- by fingering the United States, that he can create a political diversion. So I'm not going to entertain his bloviations that are politically motivated.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, (inaudible) entertaining them.

AXELROD: It's just an opportunity to say "bloviate."


So you can get from the context that a bloviation is rhetoric of some kind.

Still, my curiosity was nudged, and I went to Dictionary.com to look it up (it wasn’t in any dictionary I have).


–verb (used without object), ‑ated, ating.

to speak pompously.

1850–55, Americanism; pseudo-L alter. of blow to boast; popularized by W. G. Harding

bloviation, noun

So it’s a word that is uniquely American and it is derived from “blow.” That’s just too much fun.

Now the challenge for me will be to use it in a sentence sometime soon. Around here with so many tea bagging conservatives spouting off that shouldn’t be too difficult.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

County Judge Imposes Partial Ban on Fireworks Sales

After imposing a ban on the discharge of fireworks, and not imposing a ban on the sale of same, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert began to have second thoughts, especially when he saw that Harris County Judge Ed Emmett went ahead and banned some fireworks sales. Making their inaction in Fort Bend County look a little weak.

Besides, not all fireworks were banned, just “stick rockets and missiles with fins.” Stick rockets are also known as bottle rockets. You launch them by putting the stick part in a bottle and lighting the fuse.

Supposedly, these kinds of rockets are highly unpredictable and may auger in back on Earth before all of the fuel is spent.

So this led to the “Disaster Declaration for Threat of Wildfires Proclamation for Fort Bend County.” Which was signed the next day by Judge Hebert. Unfortunately, for some reason, what is possible in Harris County is not possible in Fort Bend: the declaration only lasts 60 hours. The 4th of July is 156 hours past the declaration’s expiration.

So Hebert had to send a request to the governor to extend the declaration, which he did do just today.

“A disaster declaration such as the one Hebert signed can only remain in effect for 60 hours. Hebert appealed to Gov. Perry, who has the power to extend such a ban, in order to prevent sale and discharge of aerial fireworks this July 4 holiday season.”

“‘My primary concern is the safety and welfare of our citizens, and I do not believe that the outdoor burn ban adopted by Commissioner’s Court earlier this week is sufficient to protect life and property as we enter the July 4th season under the current drought conditions and heat advisory,’ Hebert said Friday ‘I am glad that Gov. Perry supports this initiative and I appreciate the fast response we received from him extending the declaration.’”

So Fort Bend County is now safe. Maybe.

I don’t have much fun with bottle rockets. They don’t do much and you can’t really control them. The finned rockets supposedly have fins for stability in flight but they mainly ensure that somewhere along its flight it will turn and crash into someone’s parked car. So I usually stay away from them, too.

The ones I like are the mortar shells. The round finless, stickless rockets that are fired out of a cardboard tube. The sale of these, supposedly, is not banned. And used properly, they generally explode after a short flight straight upward, filling the air with smoke and sparks that harmlessly extinguish long before they return to Earth.

Except for the time that I saw one fired horizontally and it exploded just above a field of dry brush turning it into a 100 square foot inferno.

The point is, if the safety and welfare of the citizens of Fort Bend County is really and truly the primary concern here, why not err on the side of caution and issue an outright ban on the sale of all fireworks?

Or would that cause irreparable harm to fireworks manufacturers and sellers?

So maybe we know what is really the primary concern, here, and it isn’t public safety.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ana Kefr: A One Band War on Religion

I was browsing in a nearby chain bookstore today in an uncharacteristic place. Instead of looking through the science or computer books, or looking to see if Dan Brown has published his 5th book yet, I was over in the Philosophy/Religion section.

And I found something interesting had happened there at some time in the past.

Leafing through Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus I found that someone had inserted a leaflet in the book. And considering the kind of book I was browsing through, at first I took it for a religious tract.

But it was far from a religious tract.

It was a very unique message from a heavy metal rock group called Ana Kefr.

Here it is below (click to enlarge):

Then I looked in another nearby book promoting Christianity, and I found another one. Then in a copy of the Holy Bible, another one. Then in a book on commentary on The Torah, another. But in a book on archeology of the Holy Land, none.

So it appears to me that a heavy metal rock group, one that is actually based in California, seems to be planting warning notices in books about religious faith, warning potential purchasers that “the contents of the book were entirely fictitious,” and that adherents to the religion “advocate ethnic cleansing, misogyny, slavery, misanthropy, bigotry, ignorance . . .” etc., etc.

So I took one of the leaflets, as you can see, and came back to do a little research, finding their MySpace website here.

And then I figured out what “The Infidels Rise” at the bottom of the leaflet means. Ana Kefr is not the name of some girl that got stoned for being raped or something, the words Ana Kefr translates from Arabic as “I am infidel.”

An infidel is an unbeliever.

So it kind of makes sense.

This band dedicates itself to unbelief in all religions, campaigns against organized religion, and named itself appropriately. Now I am not even close to being a fan of metal music, but this band seems to have its narrative put together, and a message to deliver.


How it is that their leaflets found their way to a bookstore in Texas is something that I am unable to fathom, however.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lessons Not Learned

When asked what Obama should be doing about Iran that he is not doing, the Republican answer is ultimately lame. Because this is what they are really thinking.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Governor Mark Sanford: 5 Days Crying in Argentina

I guess we have new code words for getting some nooky on the side: “Hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Governor Mark Sanford has now owned up to what we all suspected, that his clandestine foray to Buenos Aires this week was in fact a close encounter of the sexual kind with an Argentinean hottie.

And another Republican Evangelical has fallen into the loving arms of Satan.

And again, I am going to bet that there will be those out there screaming for him to resign as governor of South Carolina, a Bible Belt state like no other (well, second to Texas, anyway) just because he was doing the nasty with a woman not his wife.

His new cover story, now, is that he went down there to break it off with the woman, a friend of his for over 8 years, and a lover for the last one of those. “I spent the last 5 days crying in Argentina,” declared Mark Sanford before a crowd of reporters and staff.

5 days?

My guess is that the break off occurred as he was talking to the reporters, not before.

But back to the main thesis. People are going to demand his resignation for schtupping the Argentinean lady. Mainly, I think, because Republicans claim to have high moral standards and hold everyone up to them whether they, themselves, can live up to them -or not.

Republicans, however, are subject to the same human frailties as anyone else. Resigning over something that should be considered a natural act is the utmost in stupidity.

And to his credit he’s not resigning - - - yet. He’s resigning his leadership role in the Republican Governor’s Association, but that is it. But the dice are still tumbling, I think, so we will see whether he actually does resign sometime in the near future.

I think he should resign, but not for cheating on his wife. He should resign because of malfeasance in office. Think of it. He lies to his staff about where he is going, then disappears for 5 days. He left no contingency plans if something should go amiss in his absence. The man totally gave in to his own selfishness and left his state with no one at the helm.

This man makes poor choices. But he should not resign because he chose to be with another woman instead of his wife. That is, unfortunately, a common human frailty. But because he traded the safety of his state for a chance at a sexual encounter, he does not deserve to lead it.

But speaking of crying, and speaking of Argentina, what about this as a “swan song” for the good ol’ Governor of South Carolina?

UPDATE: It seems that the press has been monitoring the movements of Governor Sanford for some time now. The people at "The State" the main paper media outlet in South Carolina's capitol city of Columbia, have been reading email exchanges between Sanford and his Argentinean amour, Maria, for a while now.

They post excerpts from them here.

God Help the Girl

You might recall awhile back that I got off my soapbox one day and touted a new Scottish girl group with the improbable name of “God Help the Girl.” I then followed up with a video embed of what they called an “Introduction.”

And that was where I was going to leave it until I remembered yesterday that June 23rd was the American release date of their first album, entitled, of course, “God Help the Girl.”

The song on track 2 on the album is, of course, entitled “God Help the Girl.”

Well I knew that while the girl group is not entirely unknown, it being an offshoot of the Scottish group “Belle and Sebastian,” I would probably not be able to purchase the CD off the shelf at my local music or book store.

But then we have the internets now, don’t we?

So you can now purchase the CD online here for $11.29 (plus shipping). Or here for $12.99 (plus shipping). Or here for 15.99 (plus shipping). Or here for ₤13.00 (plus shipping – from the UK).

Or you can cherry pick and just download the songs you like from iTunes for 99 cents apiece.

So you have lots of options, don’t you?

I went with option 1. In three days, now, I will have my copy. Then I will be able to listen to the angelic voices of this girl group any old time I want to.

UPDATE: The CD arrived on Saturday, and yes it met all of my expectations. It comes with a multipage booklet that spells out the narrative - the story of a 1st year college student who slowly descends into deep depression, her battle, and the slow climb out of the hole she dug herself.

County Commissioners Approve of Sales, but Not Discharge of Fireworks

This is typical.

In response to having had several weeks now without a drop of rain and record hot dry days, the Fort Bend County Commissioners this week approved a motion by County Fire Marshal Vance Cooper to declare a “burn ban” in the county.

A burn ban effectively means no open flames are allowed because it might set off wildfires.

And because we are just 10 days out from Independence Day, that means open flames also apply to fireworks.

And that’s a good thing. That is the responsible thing to do. Because what those of you not from around here may not know is that here in Fort Bend County we take our fireworks seriously. We are not of the namby pamby sparkler set, now. When it comes to fireworks we don’t mess around.


Around here you can purchase just about any kind of fireworks made. I’m talking rockets and bombs, here. In my youth we had to travel to Mexico to find fireworks of that sort.

What is typical, though, is that the burn ban falls short of banning the sale of fireworks in Fort Bend County. That’s right, you can buy them, but you can’t set them off.

From FortBendNow:

“Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers agreed with Hebert, saying the ban won’t prevent fireworks sales but does make lighting or discharging fireworks illegal.”

“Because of a law requiring a lead time before banning fireworks sales, “the only thing we can do is prevent people from setting fireworks off,” Meyers said.”

This makes absolutely no sense at all, which is why I am not surprised that the Commissioners Court signed off on it. Why? Because your typical fireworks-burning yahoo here in Fort Bend County does not read the local papers. Your typical yahoo doesn’t even know what a Commissioners Court is or what it does.

But he does buy lots and lots of fireworks.

You know, allowing fireworks to be purchased within your jurisdiction is tantamount to an agreement that once bought, the purchaser can put them to the use that they were intended for.

It’s like allowing the sale of bottled water in the county, but forbidding the use of it to quench your thirst after a long hot day outside mowing the ever-browning lawn.

But we here in Fort Bend County don’t want to stand in the way of free enterprise. No way will we stifle the merchandising of firestorm delivery systems. Because we support the capitalist way of life here. Regulating commerce?

That’s Obama Socialism writ large.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Iran They Are Charging “Bullet Fees”

And just when you think things can’t get worse in Iran, things got worse in Iran.

According to this story in the Wall Street Journal, relatives who want to collect the remains of their murdered kin from the morgue are being asked to pay a “bullet fee” before they will release the corpse of their relatives so they can bury them.

A $3000 bullet fee.

This puts Iran on the same moral ground as China, which has, in the past, charged family members a “bullet fee” for the bullet that they fired into the heads of people that they perform capital punishment upon.

Last year China charged 3400 of these fees.

But in Iran, the story is particularly heart-wrenching because in this case, a family’s only son, 19-year-old Kaveh Alipour, was a non-combatant. He was not involved in the demonstrations but was merely caught out in the streets on his way home from his acting class.

Where he was shot in the head.

As the story unfolds, we learn that the morgue charging the bullet fee finally waived the requirement when Kevan’s parents explained that the sum total of their possessions didn’t add up to $3000, and that the father was a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War.

So they let them take their son’s body on condition that they not bury him in Tehran.

Funerals, I take it, are bit of an embarrassment for the Iranian government these days.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Won’t Coleman Concede?

What is it, these days about sore losers? Why is it increasingly unlikely to get concession speeches in close elections once the winner is apparent? And no, I do not have Al Gore in mind when I ask this question. No one will ever know who actually won the 2000 presidential election because 5 conservative justices on the US Supreme Court slammed the door on that revelation.

When Harry Truman won in his 1948 re-election campaign, the outcome was so close that newspapers actually went to press with the wrong headlines. But did Tom Dewey hold up the election and go to court to overturn the will of the people (or in that case, the will of the electoral college)?


Or Nixon. Dick Nixon, who had plenty of doubts over the outcome of the 1960 presidential election from areas like Richard Daly’s Chicago, all of West Virginia, and certain Rio Grande Valley precincts that had more ballots cast than people who actually lived there, just went away only to come back as a rebranded vibrant “New Nixon” eight years later.

But now, seemingly, when the race is a close one, the loser puts up a scrape if only to delay the opposition from having an additional vote in whatever legislative body they are running for.

Like Norm Coleman, the loser in Minnesota’s 2008 senatorial contest. We are now half way into the following year and Coleman has successfully kept Senator Al Franken from taking his seat.

But I don’t think that is all of the story.

I think that Norm Coleman holds on because he isn’t just a loser, he is a big time loser – even when he wins.

Like when Norm Coleman lost his bid to be governor of the state of Minnesota.

To a professional wrestler.

To Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

How do you explain that to yourself, or to your wife and kids for that matter?

Then when he did win that Senatorial seat in 2002, it was in a race against a well-beloved fixture in Minnesota politics, Paul Wellstone.

Only because Wellstone, along with family members, died in a plane crash just before the election – which, as it turned out, was a close one despite the fact that his opponent was a corpse.

Not a huge mandate.

With that as prelude, how can Coleman possibly live it down that he was retired from public office by a standup comedian? By “what’s in it for me, Al Franken?” By the guy who played a train baggage handler in the cult movie Trading Places.

No, that is really why Norm Coleman won’t concede. That would be strike three.

And he’s out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

They’re Shooting People in Iran

Demonstrations in Iran took an ugly turn today. When the Supreme Leader came out with his opinion on the elections, that they were, to use code words here, fair and balanced, Iranians stopped protesting the election, stopped chanting anti Ahamadinejad slogans, and turned against their Supreme Dictator, chanting “Death to Ali Khamenei.”

Khamenei warned them not to demonstrate anymore, threatening violence, but the Iranians are apparently cut from some pretty stiff cloth. They came out today in defiance. The threw rocks and started fires.

And got shot at for their trouble.

Here is a You Tube video showing one such altercation, Young men mostly, throwing stones at a building that houses Basij Militia.

Warning, pools of blood.

From what I gather, the young man later died.

By the way, if you want to personally register your outrage and live in the Houston area, there will be a candlelight vigil at the Water Wall in the Galleria area of Houston on Post Oak. It will be at 8 PM sharp and won’t go for a very long time. The organizers’ website is here. And here is a map.

Friday, June 19, 2009

House Passes Resolution on Iran

In largely a move to contrast themselves with the Obama Administration, which rightly enough withholds words of support for the Iranian opposition, the House today passed HR 560 authored by Howard Berman (D –CA 28) and Mike Pence (R – IN 6). The text of the resolution follows:


Expressing support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law, and for other purposes.

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) expresses its support for all Iranian citizens who embrace the values of freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and rule of law;

(2) condemns the ongoing violence against demonstrators by the Government of Iran and pro-government militias, as well as the ongoing government suppression of independent electronic communication through interference with the Internet and cellphones; and

(3) affirms the universality of individual rights and the importance of democratic and fair elections.

The resolution passed 405 Aye, 1 No, 1 Present and 25 Not Voting.

Who voted no, you might ask? Well obviously, Dr. No himself, Texas’ own Dr. Ron Paul.

I think this is fine. Congress can do things like this and it looks OK. Obama can voice concerns but if he comes out in support of the opposition that will be grist for the mill of all America haters.

Olive Garden Backpedals

Well Politico reported yesterday, based on receipt of internal Olive Garden email forwarded to it, that Olive Garden was pulling its ads from the David Letterman show “Late Night.”

It seemed pretty conclusive to me, and so I called for a boycott on Olive Garden.

I was not alone, as it turns out.

And as it turns out, many out there have the same sentiments with regard to the quality of their food and also how horribly they treat their employees (something that I was not aware of).

And today Politico is reporting that the source of that email message was not an authorized spokesperson and that Olive Garden was not pulling their ads.

From Politico:

“‘No authorized spokesperson for the company confirmed the information in his report,’ Jeffers said. ‘The Olive Garden media schedule is planned months in advance. The schedule for the Late Show with David Letterman was completed earlier this month. We take all guest concerns seriously. And, as always, we will factor those concerns in as we plan our advertising schedule in the future.’”

“When asked about the cancellation confirmation POLITICO obtained from the company’s media relations office, Jeffers responded in an email that the individual listed as the press contact on the company’s website was unauthorized to speak for the company.”

“‘The so called ‘confirmation’ didn’t come from an authorized spokesperson for the company. The guest email you received did not say any ads were pulled. And as our statement says, the schedule — which is set months in adv
ance — was completed earlier this month.’”

I don’t know about you, but this “unauthorized spokesperson” explanation has so many holes in it you could play 100 rounds of golf on it and not visit the same hole twice.

Still, if you are an aficionado of 2nd rate lasagna or those phallic breadsticks of theirs, I guess it’s safe to go back in the water.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Let’s Boycott Olive Garden

In one of the most ill-timed moves of the year, a chain of mediocre Italian food restaurants known as Olive Garden has announced that they are ending their sponsorship and pulling their ads on David Letterman’s talk show “Late Night.”

Did they not hear? The Palin/Letterman feud is like “The Sopranos.”

It’s over.

But apparently not.

From Politico:

“In an e-mail to a Letterman critic obtained by POLITICO, a spokeswoman for the Italian restaurant chain wrote that ‘there will be no more Olive Garden ads scheduled for “The Late Show” with David Letterman in this year's broadcast schedule,’ citing the talk show host’s ‘inappropriate comments.’”

“‘We apologize that Mr. Letterman’s mistake, which was not consistent with our standards and values, left you with a bad impression of Olive Garden,’ wrote Sherri Bruen, the company’s guest relations manager.”

Well, that tears it. Olive Garden. Not only do you serve mediocre food but your service is horrible. Putting the word Italian next to restaurant in reference to your food chain is a travesty.

So until they start advertising on Letterman, let’s boycott Olive Garden.

Boycott Olive Garden.

And if you get a yen, and need an Italian food fix, and you live in the Houston area, there is no better place to spend your money than right here.

Senate Apologizes for Slavery and Segregation

Here on the eve of June 19th, or as it is known here in Texas, Juneteenth, the US Senate has unanimously passed a resolution authored by Senate Democrat Tom Harkin a few years back. The bill expresses the sense in the Senate that it is deeply sorry for 250 years of slavery and 130 years of segregation by race.

The bill has been sent on to the House where it is hoped it will soon pass there as well.

The bill is nonbinding.

No reparations.

No restitution.

Just a simple “Sorry, Dude.”

As a matter of fact there is wording in the bill that nothing in the bill supports restitution by the United States.

So I guess the descendents of slaves will just have to wait a little longer for their promised “40 acres and a mule.

The Egregious Act of Planting Grass

You may recall that at the end of the regular session of the 81st legislature State Rep. Wayne Christian managed to get an amendment to a bill dealing with the state’s beaches inserted, and the bill passed. Now the language of the amendment made it such that it affected only twelve properties on Crystal Beach, one of which was owned by, you guessed it, Wayne Christian.

In essence, it exempted these properties from the law that differentiates public beach from private property. That law defined this boundary as the line of vegetation that appears between 4 and 5 feet above mean sea level. But because Hurricane Ike stripped sand and vegetation from the beach, some homeowners now find that their houses, if they survived the storn, or their property, if their houses did not, are now on the public beach.

When Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson found out about it, he was hopping mad and vowed not to enforce the exemption.

Why rehash all of this? Well it seems that other property owners at Crystal Beach felt a little left out and figured out how they would get their property back out of public hands.

Plant some grass.

From The Chron:

“Some property owners, however, are taking a more proactive approach by planting grass and shrubs along the edge of a dune on Bolivar Peninsula to keep their homes off the public beach.”

This is pretty comical, really. Tragic, though. Tragic because it addresses the mentality of these people who knew full well that they stood to lose everything if the beach erodes – something that it has been doing as long as Texas has been a state. And probably before that.

The other tragedy is that it reveals the sheer ignorance of these (former) property owners. Grass doesn’t grow just anywhere. There is a vegetation line because that is where grass can survive. Some species of grass are tolerant of low salinity soil, but when the salinity exceeds its natural limits, grass fails to grow. In the quote from The Chron we read that “the line of vegetation is drawn by Mother Nature.” And that is exactly right.

And you can’t fool Mother Nature.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and his General Land Office’s beach and dune team leader, Angela Sunley are apparently taking this all in stride.

“Planted vegetation lines won’t automatically ensure that beach property is eligible for construction, Sunley said. The land office will ignore artificially created vegetation lines jutting from the natural line.”

“‘It has to be a continuous line of vegetation,’ Sunley said.”

“Moreover, property owners must obtain a permit from the Galveston County Building Department in order to plant. No such permits have been issued since the storm, county building official Sean Welsh said.”

“Those who didn’t obtain a permit don’t have to worry for now because the land office has decided to enforce regulations only when violations become too blatant to ignore — for instance, blocking the public beach entirely — as property owners struggle to recover from storm damage.”

“‘It has to be very egregious,’ Sunley said.”

I guess they must be used to dealing with ignorant characters like this, because in using the term “egregious,” I would have to think that the violation would be flagrant and notorious.

Like stealing property from the people.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ensign: Resign

As they say, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. But just a couple of days after Senator John Ensign (R - NV) made his disclosure that last year he was schtupping his aide’s wife as she was helping him with his campaign, no one on the political scene really has come out to demand that Ensign resign.

And why is that?

Well for one thing, Republicans, right about now, are whistling tuneless songs and staring up in the sky, so they’re too busy to jump up on tables demanding his head the way they all righteously demanded the resignation of Bill Clinton in 1998 for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky.

And among their number was John Ensign who was running to unseat Harry Reid back then.

From Think Progress:

“I came to that conclusion recently, and frankly it’s because of what he put his whole Cabinet through and what he has put the country through,” Ensign said Thursday, becoming the first member of the Nevada delegation to call for Clinton to quit. “He has no credibility left.

I think it’s interesting that the reason he gives has nothing to do with morality – Ensign is ironically a member of the evangelical group Promise Keepers whose homepage is here, However in my previous attempts at logging onto the page it was a blank page, but not the other listed links like this one: The Seven Promises (take a look at Promise 3). Oh, by the way, here is the cached home page of Promise Keepers in case they blank out the site again.

So do I think Ensign should resign? Obviously from the title of this post, yes. Is it because the man is a philanderer? Not a chance. He’s a human being. Humans make bad choices. Humans break promises all the time.

It’s because he is a complete unprincipled hypocrite.

On Video: Obama WOULD Harm a Fly

Not included in this video from Politico is footage where the President of the United States takes a tissue and picks up the fly to dispose of the carcass.

This is a president who cleans up his own messes.

UPDATE: PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has weighed in on Obama's execution of the house fly:

"In a nutshell, our position is this: He isn't the Buddha, he's a human being, and human beings have a long way to go before they think before they act."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The US Military: Defending your Right to Tell Bad Jokes

Well it looks like the Palin/Letterman feud mentioned here awhile ago is finally over, and as I predicted, Letterman had some more apologies to make. So he made the apology with a very classy observation that it wasn’t the Palins’ fault that they had misinterpreted his remarks, it was his.

Now I was wondering what the Palin response would be, thinking that something along the lines of “apology accepted” would be likely.

And as I thought, that is pretty much what she did.

But you know, Sarah Palin is running for President in 2012, so you have to wonder how she was going to milk this for all it is worth – and look presidential to boot. So, no, she didn’t leave it at that she went to the GOP playbook and pulled out #18: say something good about the military.

Because you know, Democrats don’t like the military, or so Republicans will tell you. As a matter of fact, Republicans have a real love for the military to the extent that they recently sent them to two simultaneous wars. So every once in awhile they pull out #18, even when it seems somewhat disconnected.

As it did in this case.

From Politico:

“‘Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction,’ Palin continued in the statement. ‘And this is all thanks to our U.S. military women and men putting their lives on the line for us to secure America's right to free speech — in this case, may that right be used to promote equality and respect.’”

But you have to give her credit. Who but Sarah Palin can think of how to relate an apology from David Letterman, something you don’t hear very often, to praise of the service of “women and men putting their lives on the line.” You do have to give her a little applause for that.

Because no one else has ever thought of that.

So next time you see a soldier in uniform, walk up to him or her and offer your expression of gratitude for securing David Letterman’s right to tell bad jokes dealing with sexual congress between teenaged girls and mature men.

I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Obamadomino Effect

Now because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won in last Friday’s election, people in the media are saying that this is evidence that The Obama Effect, given credit for the election of pro-Western moderates in Lebanon after his Cairo speech, had no effect on Persians.

I beg to differ.

It was an Obama Effect in reverse that actually affected the outcome in Iran.

What about this? What about the Supreme Leader in Iran, upon seeing what happened in Lebanon, and hearing in the news about hopes that the Obama speech to the Muslim world will have similar effect in the Iranian elections simply chose to be the spoiler here.

Chose to be the spoiler by commanding the vote count to be rigged so that Obama would be denied another victory - in his country now.

And chose to do it in such a way that a rigged election was obvious to anyone.

After all, Iran and the United States have one thing in common. The voters who support the hard liners live in the rural districts of Iran. They are also less well educated. Contrast that to the urban voters -70% of all voters in Iran live in cities - who are more pro-Western and better educated.

Polls external to Iran were showing that Ahmadinejad would be turned out of office by a significant margin.

And finally, how does it happen that millions of paper ballots are all counted within hours of the closing of the polls? We Americans are used to seeing national elections results by 10 PM (as in last November). But we have machines to count these votes. They don’t.

No, the election was rigged, and it was rigged because the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wanted to ensure that the Obama Effect didn’t have the same effect in Iran as it did in Lebanon. And now I see it that former congressman Joe Scarborough has the same idea.

And now we are seeing a continuation of The Effect in the 2 days of riots taking place in Tehran. And Ayatollah Ali Khamenei caving to the Mousavi request for an investigation of the election.

This Effect seems to be evolving before our very eyes. It might even have to be renamed.

I nominate “The Obamadomino Effect.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

FEC is Gutless: Makes Incredibly Bad Call

Boy, Tom DeLay sure could have used a Federal Ethics Commission like the one we have right now. Heck, he might still be in office.

Incredibly, the FEC issued a ruling on a request by Pete Visclosky (D – IND 1) to be able to tap into his $909,000 campaign fund in order to pay his legal bills, allowing him to do just that.

What legal bills, you might ask.

Well it seems that the Justice Department investigated some fundraising habits by and for Visclosky by a now-defunct group called PMA.

From Politico:

“The Justice Department is investigating PMA over allegations that the firm and its founder, former House Appropriations Committee aide Paul Maggliocchetti, used ‘straw man’ donors to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to lawmakers, including Visclosky.”

“PMA’s offices were raided by FBI agents in November, and the once highly successful firm has now gone out of business.”

Shades of TRMPAC and ARMPAC, huh?

And now, thanks to the FEC ruling, Visclosky can make use of that filthy lucre to pay his lawyers that are defending him against the Justice Department.

Here is the gist of their ruling (also from Politico):

“The allegations concern Representative Visclosky's campaign and duties as a Federal officeholder because Representative Visclosky allegedly received the contributions in question as part of his campaign, and his alleged actions regarding the congressional appropriations process are directly related to his duties as a Federal officeholder,” FEC lawyers wrote in a draft “advisory opinion” released today.”

“Therefore, based on the representations made in the advisory opinion request and accompanying news articles, the Commission concludes that the legal fees and expenses associated with the Federal investigation would not exist irrespective of Representative Visclosky's campaign or duties as a Federal officeholder.”

Get it? Now if Visclosky was hauled into court for, say, beating his wife, those funds would be off limits to him. However, because the allegations have to do with his ethical compass as a federal legislator, and he got the funds because he campaigned to be a federal legislator, then it’s OK to use them.

Last November we were all looking for Change, but I don’t think anyone had this kind of change in mind.