Friday, March 30, 2007

Privilege: Bush v. Clinton

From time to time, I submit here something from the mind of Reg Henry. Mr. Henry is a columnist from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
He usually has something interesting to say - a new spin on things. I don't agree with him all the time, but I respect is voice enough to listen. He is usually not too political, but he made an exception this time. Like a lot of us, I have Bush fatigue. It sounds like Mr. Henry does as well.

_____________________________________

REG HENRY: The president is one privileged executive

Given the popularity of lawyers - who rank with weasels, used-car salesmen and journalists in the public's esteem - the great furor over the Bush administration's firing of eight U.S. attorneys is the season's political surprise.
An impartial observer might conclude that it lacked the necessary ingredient to seriously threaten the president - that ingredient being sex.

Why, if only a blue dress were somehow involved, perhaps the president could be impeached, because in America making incompetent war and lying about it is not an impeachable offense, but making indiscreet love (sort of) and lying about it is.

But instead of dirty laundry, which the American people understand better, everyone is left to ponder the proper etiquette for firing political appointees for political purposes - specifically, why it is right to do so at some times but not others.

Still, the controversy does have legs, giving Democrats in Congress something to do in the periods when they are not making their sadly doomed efforts to stop the aforementioned war in Iraq.

To be sure, the fuss over the federal prosecutors has provided some jolly moments for those Americans with a sense of humor.

For example, there was President Bush, who has always jumped to the strings of his partisan puppeteers, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, calling on Democrats to "drop the partisanship."

In another note of levity, various conservatives have been defending the president because Bill Clinton did the same thing (sort of) - the same fellow who in their view is the devil. "Bush can do it because the devil did it" is a humiliating argument, however you cut it.

(I am not crazy about Clinton myself, but I don't think he is actually the Horned One - Horny One, maybe. If the number 666 applies to him at all, it is merely the innocent sum of the number of cheeseburgers he eats in a year. I note with concern that Al Gore, his former vice president whom I continue to admire, has apparently eaten his share. He now looks every inch the candidate, as a foreign newspaper wittily remarked.)

With subpoenas to White House aides threatening, what is more interesting than the exact throw-weight of the scandal is the core principle that Bush defends - executive privilege.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't understand this important concept at all. The Bush administration, which has promoted an expansive notion of executive privilege, defines it this way: We are the executive and we are privileged and you are not. Elections have consequences, except when Democrats win them.

Well, it's hard to argue with that. With great patience and magnanimity, Bush has told the unprivileged that he will allow relevant committee members on a bipartisan basis to interview key members of his staff. He will also provide all relevant documents and e-mails related to the firings. What he resists is the notion that his staff be subpoenaed and have to testify under oath as if they were mere servants of the American people.

I have to admit that Bush is completely right about this. It would be far better if restive members of Congress came to the White House for a nice chat, perhaps a cup of coffee and a cookie and be sent on their way with a hearty laugh and all the relevant facts presented to them.

One problem with sworn testimony is that they love the Bible in the White House, as you know, and the idea that perspiring aides might have to put their hands on it and take an oath risks making the Bible indecently soiled with grubby handprints.

Worse yet than the issue of cleanliness, those swearing on the Bible must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is ridiculous. How in the world can any government function if it doesn't have the freedom to lie?

And why start telling the truth now at this late stage? Pity poor Dick Cheney, who has made an art form of the untruth. Indeed, his main medical problem is not his heart or blood clots in his leg but the various Pinocchio-dectomies that his doctors must perform on his nose on a regular basis. He is supposed to tell the truth, too?

It is positively un-American to think that this most patriotic of American administrations would now get in the business of truth-telling. Besides, it has already been established in the law that a president can only be forced to testify under oath in a civil case involving hanky-panky, a theory that surely extends to his aides.

Possible obstruction of justice is not hanky-panky. Not in George Bush's America.



Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #11 - Update on 2007 Predictions.


It has been a while. I have been very occupied with my job and being gone the past few weekends. I warned you, however.

Even though I am taking time for this TT, I am not out of the woods when it comes to my busy-ness. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, though.

For this TT, I have decided to check on my thirteen 2007 predictions. Here they are:

1. President Bush's popularity numbers will go up in the next few months, but bottom out again towards the end of the year.

So far this hasn’t panned out. However, if the surge success reports are true, this could change soon. Give me one more month on this.


2. Some celebrity that we would not think had the moral credentials to guide kids will write a children's book.

Not yet.

3. A celebrity will convert to Christianity and will talk too much about it.

It is still too soon to tell.

4. A female celebrity will die and it will be drug/alcohol related.

Unfortunately, yes. Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

5. The San Diego Chargers will beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the
Super Bowl.

I was way off on this one. However, I did not come to this prediction like the others. Most of these were gut feelings that border on a supernatural feeling. This one, like another later, was made out of my misguided notion that I know something about sports.

6. Someone who reads this blog will make a life-changing decision and it will work out great for him/her.

This one is a little tricky. I have heard from a couple of people that this may appy to. If the decision is made during 2007, maybe we won’t know if it worked out till later. So far so good, though. I would say this is a yes, although I am not at liberty to discuss the particulars at this point. You will just have to trust me.

7. There will be a surge in video game playing among baby boomers - and there will surface one particular game that will usher these people in.

Again, this is too soon to tell. I am thinking about autumn here for some reason.

8. This summer will be one of the hottest ever in the midwest.

By definition, this is too soon to tell. I can say where I am, the temperatures for the past three weeks have been running six weeks ahead of time (e.g. the weather guy today said that the recent temperatures are normal for early May).

9. There will be a new pest related problem (insect, etc.) that will either threaten people's health or damage major agricultural production.

Still too early. This is a summer issue.

10. A high school kid will make the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of a number of people and will be proclaimed a hero.

Not yet.

11. Something will happen that will put Omaha, Nebraska on the news for a number of days.

Not that I know of yet.


12. The Boston Red Sox will win the World Series.

This is the other intellectual pick. Maybe I will know more about baseball than I do football, but I doubt it.

13. There will be horrendous killing somewhere in the US that will inspire at least one copy-cat killing.

Not that I heard of. There is still time, however, but I hope I am wrong. Wouldn’t it be weird if this is what would put Omaha in the news as I predicted in #11?
So, if you are scoring at home, here is where it stands: I have hit two correct, missed one and have ten incompletes. That gives me a poor score of 67%. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A New Diet?

As most of you know, I am still on a quest to lose weight and get back into shape. Next week I am going to start the weight training again. I had to take a break from it in the winter because my "gym" is in the garage. Hands on metal at 15 degrees at 5 o'clock in the morning just wasn't something I was willing to do. Call me "undisciplined".

Now it is spring and I am ready to go full force. I am even considering the new "Purina" diet. Haven't heard of it? Well, this is what my wife sent me in email:



Purina Diet

I have a couple of dogs and was buying several bags of Purina at Wal-Mart.
While I was waiting in line, a woman behind me asked if I had a dog. On
impulse, I told her no, I was starting The Purina Diet again, although I
probably shouldn't because I ended up in the hospital the last time! But,
I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an Intensive Care Ward with tubes
coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way it works
is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two
every time you felt hungry, as the food is nutritionally complete. So I was
going to give it another try. I have to mention here that practically
everyone in the check out line was by now enthralled with my story,
especially a tall heavy man behind her.

Horrified, she asked why had I ended up in the hospital? Had I been
poisoned? I told her no; I'd been sitting in the middle of the street
licking myself and a car hit me!! The tall guy nearly had to stagger out of
the store, oxygen-depleted from laughter!

I paid for the Purina and left a lot of smiles behind me!
_________________________________________________________

I hope this post brought a smile to your face as did the email my wife sent me.

Monday, March 19, 2007

How Sweet It Is!

This past weekend, I watched my high school alma mater earn a birth in the state championship game. The last time the school made it the capital in the state tournament was my senior year. It was funny, as I mixed it up with fellow supporters, to notice how many people there were from my class. I guess we all felt like we needed to address some unfinished business because we lost at the state finals that year. Hopefully, this weekend, I will be celebrating in Indianapolis!

As great as the semi-state championship game was, I still chuckle when I think of the opening game of the regional tournament the week before. My school had to play the favorite in the first game. This team was huge and they were playing in their home gym. My school, being small, and having the farthest to travel, had a modest crowd of students there. The hometown powerhouse had a whole side of rowdy student fans there chanting and yelling at our players and our crowd.

They would chant something to our students and our students responded. Because of our size, our chants were nowhere near the volume of their chants. To put that point in our students’ faces, the enemy crowd would yell, “We can’t hear you! We can’t hear you!”

Fast forward to the game. It was close throughout the first half and we had a narrow lead at half time. Then came the third quarter and we went on the attack. By the time the fourth quarter had started, we had a comfortable lead. With about six minutes left in the game, we were up by 20. The rowdy crowd we had to endure up till then had been sitting on their hands for about 15 minutes by then. Then, one of the best things in high school sports happened, our crowd from the students to the teachers and parents started chanting as loud as I have ever heard them, “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!!”

I just love it when teams let their talking be on the floor!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fuming Friday

I had a couple of ideas for blogging today. One was a real nice story about the students attending a high school basketball tournament game. I chuckle everytime I think about that story - until today.

Today, I am so ticked off that I can't chuckle or smile - at least for a little while. It has to do with the NCAA basketball tournament and my participation in a big, city-wide pool. Last night, when I went to bed, I was excited that on one of my sheets I got every game correct. I don't think I had ever done that before.

When I get to work this morning, the representative of the pool told me that somehow my sheet didn't register so I get a refund for that one. I don't see how that could happen, but as I check the leader board, the guy who runs the pool is in first place with 15 correct games, and the sheet that somehow didn't get registered of mine, had 16 correct games.

I realize that this doesn't sound like a big deal to most people and I seriously doubt that anyone did anything wrong. It was probably just some unlucky glitch in the system that screwed me over. However, the truth is that I LIVE for the NCAA tournament so this is a big deal to me.

As a result, I don't feel like writing a nice little story today. I find it hard to write at all when I am angry. But, I will get over it. The odds that my sheet would remain on top are remote anyway. It is not like I was a lock to win the pool. However, I just wanted to enjoy a perfect first place for just one day. I guess it was just not to be.






Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #10 - Reasons why this is another illigitimate TT


Here is the second of my illigitimate TT's. What makes it illigitimate is that it is not one that I would submit if I had more time. The lack of time makes it this way so I am listing the reasons I do not have the time to submit something more than this. So, in the interest of discipline, here is the thirteen reasons I was unable to send a legitimate TT to press today:


1. My annual report


2. The budget


3. Freaky cases that have walked in my office.


4. The Indiana High School 3-A boys basketball tournament.


5. Ebay - I am a seller now. I am a big player and I specialize in women's and baby clothes. lol


6. My mother's health


7. My sister's health


8. My wife's flaky nature (which occupies my mind).


9. American Idol (I'm so ashamed).


10. Taxes!!!


11. Trying to sell my house


12. That pesky intern o' mine.


AND THE FINAL REASON THIS LIST ISN'T GIVEN THE TIME IT NEEDS FOR LEGITIMACY . . .


13. Three words: BRACKETS, BRACKETS, BRACKETS!!* (or three of the same word)


*For those living in caves, brackets refer to the sheets that people pick to enter pools in hopes to predict the outcomes of all the games that make up the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another of the M-word Exercises.

I got tagged by Jodi from "Looking Beyond the Cracked Window". This is no ordinary tag; she picked me as one of five blogs that makes her think. I was flattered enough, but I was wondering exactly WHAT I made her think. ;) Because I was tagged, I now have to pick five blogs that make me think. I will disqualify Jodi because she has already participated. There are one or two private blogs that I will leave off because you won't be able to check it out anyway. There are plenty of others that could be on the list, but I have to pick five. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. "Two Write Hands". Emily has a way with words. Not only that, her blog has a special place for me because she actually got me into blogging. She even designed this Psychosomatic Wit for me.

2. Sayre at "SayreSmiles". She is funny and has the best true stories. She should change her blog name to "Stranger than Fiction". She is also probably my most loyal reader which I deeply appreciate.

3. Jerry at "The WriteJerry". He has an interesting take on things and he gives great relationship advice (which I tend to need). He has a new addition to his family by now so Congratulations Jerry!

4. Charles at "Am I thinking that?". Charles is legitimate. He writes what he feels and there is a reality there that is very charming.

5. Jimmy at "StupidSheet Guy". Jimmy and I have a lot in common. He engages my mind because we seem to be amused by the same kind of thing.

That's it for this exercise. Apologies to anyone that I left out. I assure you that if this thing asked for more, I could give more. If I named you, you can consider yourself tagged, or not. Whatever floats your boat!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #9 - All Time Tear Jerker Songs

Trying to be faithful to Thursday Thirteen, I came up with my all time top songs that evokes tears - not mine, but those of women and lesser men. ;)

13. Old Shep - Elvis Presley. This song gets to me as a dog lover. It would be closer to the top of the list, but not everyone is an animal lover.

12. You Don't Bring Me Flowers - Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. Nothing sadder than a broken marriage, except maybe DEATH!

11. Love Bites - Def Leppard. You can feel it in his voice.

10. Save Me - Queen. The music and the emotion in this song will reach you.

9. The Walk - Sawyer Brown. It is a story of parenting and love. If you have an aging parent, it will get you.

8. Still - The Commodores. Reflecting on a lost love.

7. Anything That's Part Of You - Elvis Presley. Again with the lost love.

6. Diary - Bread. This is not love lost; it is dreams of love dashed.

5. Goodbye To Love - The Carpenters. This may be the last one on the list that deals with lost love.

4. Held - Natalie Grant. Death of a young one. The lyrics are excruciating yet hopeful.

3. Honey - Bobby Goldsboro. This was the first song that I remember ever hearing that caused me to be sad.

2. The Baby - Blake Shelton. Because of my mother's health, I can't even listen to this song.

AND THE NUMBER ONE TEAR JERKER SONG OF ALL TIME . . .

1. He Stopped Loving Her Today - George Jones. This song has it all. Death, lost love, and hopelessness.

Most of these songs deal with lost love. I think this theme is more prevalent than even losing someone to death, because most people believe love is the sustainer of life. Living without love, to most, is worse than not living at all.

If you haven't heard of some of these songs, I would ask you to look them up. Just don't listen to them all in one sitting or someone might have to write a sad song about you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

American Idol Judges Biased Against Christianity


It seems that Randy, Paula, and Simon are all about the contestants singing songs that they feel or finding who they are in music. Appearances are deceiving, however, especially if the contestants' musical choices are related to the spiritual – particularly Christianity. I am not saying that it is all a conscious bias, but in my opinion, it is a bias nonetheless.

Last season, Mandisa sang a very energetic song called “Shackles”. It is by a Christian group called “Mary Mary.” It was perfect for her high power, soulful style. However, she was criticized by the judges – especially Simon Cowell who thought that her song choice was a little "too indulgent".

Fast forward to Tuesday night. Chris Sligh surprised me with the song, “We All Want To Be Loved,” by DC Talk. DC Talk is a defunct Christian group who some consider the best Christian Rock/Pop group in history.

On a lackluster night of performers, Sligh was obviously in the elite. His voice was powerful and the song (one of his favorites) was catchy and positive. It didn’t have any overt Christian messages. However, for whatever reason, the three judges were unanimous in saying it was a bad song choice. For me, all three of the judges criticizing the song was eerie. I won't share what I said to my wife about it, but I was kind of creeped out about it.
I am sure the judges never heard of "We All Want To Be Loved", but they never heard of the group “311” either, but they didn’t hold that against Blake Lewis with his version of “All Mixed Up”. Simon even said that that he didn’t understand a word of it but he liked it.

All I ever here Simon say is, "this is a “singing contest!” On a night where the singing was sub par, Chris Sligh was VERY good – song choice or not.

I doubt too many people are concerned about this. As a Christian, I see this kind of thing all the time. I finally have a outlet to vent about it. So, I’m venting.





Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Life Gets in the Way

It would appear that I have been dreadfully negligent of this blog. I wanted to write nearly everyday (at least three or four times a week), but it is becoming quite difficult during this time of year.

Between preparing my budget and compiling statistics for my annual report, not to mention the zillions of meetings I have been having, touching base at work has been nearly impossible.

In addition, my wife wants to quit or downsize her work hours. To prove that we can pull it off financially, she has been doing quite of Ebay selling. This ties up the home computer. She has been bugging me to start a family and she is bound and determined to be the next Ebay millionaire to prove she can stay home with our future 2.3 children.

So, here it is - Jeff is fading away from the blog world. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In a couple of weeks, things should stabilize and I will be back. I will still blog as much as I can till then, but in the words of Andy Griffith, "Don't overexpect." (Bonus points for those who can tell me when he said this.) ;)