Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Flying High: Harrisburg Ethics

"I can fly!"

And with that, Rachel Kozlusky fell to her death from the 23rd story of Harrisburg's only apartment tower... or so her drunken f**kbuddy would have us believe. Kevin Eckenrode, the PA Gaming Board's ethical embarrassment of the week, "...told police he accidentally dropped his girlfriend out a 23rd-story window over the weekend." Much to the joy of screenwriters at the National Ad Council's Marajuana Scare Tactic Commission, Eckenrode was found 23 stories up from the splattered remains of Kozlusky, drunk off his ass with a pot pipe. His "background check" for the gaming board is currently underway: hopefully this will be included in his file.

"...an offer you can't refuse."

Rep. Mike Veon, long associated with slimey Harrisburg politics, offered a job at a casino to Jay Paisley in exchange for Paisley's dropping his electoral challenge for Veon's seat. Veon offered employment at a harness racing track proposed for northern Beaver County, with a salary between $35-$40k.

That $35-$40k a year bribe, "...wasn't vague at all," according to Paisley.

Veon's historic hubris (read: self-destructive stupidity) makes Paisley's accusation completely believeable. Veon's formula is simple: take a dash of "Buy Off My Opponent," throw in a heaping portion of "Direct Connection to Slots Parlor Donor," and you have a big bowl of "I F**ked Myself" stew! Veon's only solace is that he shared the Post Gazette with a story about a guy who claimed to accidentally drop his girl from a high-rise apartment.

Headline: Legislator not as Dumb as Drunk with a Bad Alibi.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Coffee and a Danish Protest

Well, more of a rally, properly speaking. Christopher Hitchens, the former socialist and noted contrar... . Ahem -- sorry, I'll start over: Christopher Hitchens, the former socialist and noted contrarian writer, led a gathering in support of Denmark on Friday at the embassy of the Danish government, in Washington, D.C. The rally follows in the wake of the violence following in the wake of some cartoons published in Danish newspapers back in September. For those unable to attend, Wonkette "covered" the "event."

Here's a rather clever sign made by one of the radical Hans Christian Anderson supporters who breezed in. In case you were wondering -- and you weren't -- there's a similar rally being planned as I blog this, to take place in New York. If you're in the area, please come out and join us in this show of solidarity with our Danish comrades. Or just watch me get ripped on Carlsberg beer and try to grab your boob. Doesn't matter; freedom wins either way.

In the interregnum, check out The Hitch in this hilarious blooper in which he browbeats an Australian talk-show host for no reason whatsoever! What a cut-up! (Thanks, sonic.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Voter ID

The previous post, by my learned colleague Highland Ave., brings to mind yet another tale of political oddity. The ACLU was kind enough to bring to our attention the fact that charming little LaPlata, Maryland requires voters to produce ID prior to casting their ballot in municipal elections. It seems that while 22 states require production of voter ID, Maryland is not among them. LaPlata is the lone municipality in the state requiring voter ID, apparently unique in its devotion to preventing voter fraud.

Before we get the nation's knickers in a twist, and dump money into ballot initiatives, consider the facts. First, Maryland is governed on a county system. This means that the power and resources at the local level are vested in the county commissioners. Second, states with county-based governance tend to choose this method as a result of their dispersed population. Therefore, the vast majority of people drive, by necessity, and usually possess driver's licenses (a valid form of voter ID). Third, LaPlacians don't care. This past May a record 1,153 voters cast ballots in the municipal election out of a population of 8,500 potential voters. The Mayor's term generally lasts until he either gets fed up, or dies the latter usually being the case.

Based upon these considerations, I suggest repealing this useless law as soon as practicable. No doubt this will occur sometime in the month before the next election in 2007. Maryland summers are rather warm and very humid, so its best not to overexert oneself. Let the ACLU fritter away its resources on this quixotic campaign, employing the usual publicity stunts. That way the town can re-direct its tourism advertisement budget to more useful purposes, such as buying printers for those swanky new electronic voting machines for example.

Waning Swann-ocrats

Rep. Sam Smith (R-Punxatawney) helped erode Lynn Swann's credibility with black voters; serving up some good old-fashioned black race politics to the Jewish Democrat from Philadelphia. A Voter ID bill requiring voters to show ID before casting a ballot, was approved by a Republican legislature on a party line vote, only to be publically vetoed before a cheering crowd of black civic organizations at the Hill House in Pittsburgh. With a stroke of a pen, Rendell stuck his finger in Lynn Swann's eye, and reminded Republicans why they cant capture the black vote: they're clueless.

Ironic that Rendell can accuse the Republican Party of disenfranchising black voters when the Republican candidate for governor is black. But the Voter Identification bill, seemingly innocuous to the white Yuppie set, gets a rough reception in poor and urban districts. People who are too poor to own a car probably dont fly or cross the US-Canadian border with any frequency either. Unless they are in their early 20's and like hitting the liquor store, they might not see the need to even have an ID card. The crowd, a who's-who of black political organizations, responded to the veto by giving Fast Eddie a rock-star's welcome to the Hill House. Rendell thundered against the heartless Republicans to a crowd generally given to phobias about heartless Republicans. But in the year that 'fiscal conservatism' showed its face through serious cuts in CDBG allocations at a federal level, this latest kick in the urban teeth seemed business as usual.

In response to Rendell cashing in this free political capital, Rep. Smith's idiot 'press secretary' Steve Miskin responded that he didnt see what the problem with this bill is. "What are [Democrats] hiding from? What are they scared of," demanded Miskin, who openly pirates most of his speech material from Chuck Norris movies. I would argue Democrats are afraid Republicans will stop helping Rendell's campaign.

I just want to know why the hell a State Legislator needs a f**king press secretary?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Little Girls for Schaefer

Maryland "Comptroller [and former Governor] William Donald Schaefer abruptly reversed course this afternoon and issued a hand-written apology to a 24-year-old aide to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. whom Schaefer appeared to ogle in a public meeting this week."

A class act carried out by a man who's served Maryland for over half a century. Who else would have the nerve to deny the press the usual spectacle of self flagellation by way of an old-school hand-written note? The former Mayor of Baltimore, and later two-term Governor of Maryland, appears to be enjoying the benefits of his version of "political retirement". In theory the Comptroller is an elected office; however, Schaefer was elected because he wished it to be so. With a natural's feel for local politics and grasp of the issues, Schaefer has no qualms about keeping his successors in Annapolis and Baltimore honest.

In a state brimming with bland, but well-off, professionals sitting in politically correct judgment in the ever expanding suburbs, Schaefer keeps local politics interesting. The last time he was criticized for off the cuff remarks he handed out bumper stickers reading "Schaefer he says what you think". The time before that incident, he expressed his regard for his critics by wrapping a plastic fish in a copy of the Baltimore Sun during a public hearing. More substantively, in an era of political scandal and budgetary smoke and mirrors, Schaefer is notable for his dedication to public service. It is telling that the most his critics are able to come up with are a few odd or insensitive remarks.

So bravo Mr. Comptroller for sticking it to the PC crowd, while keeping the staffers happy, and reminding us all there's no substitute for the lost art of the personal note of apology.

Rampaging Illini Sack Editor

Daily Illini Ex-Editor Acton H. Gorton took a principled stand, and achieved the lifelong dream of every two-bit college newspaper editor. Having run the Mohammed with a bomb hat in the Daily Illini, he provoked a Freedom of Speech battle that plastered his aristocratic name all over the NYT. Acton Gorton sleeps the rest reserved to those who live on principle (read: those whose trust fund supports their inevitible unemployment). On the other side of the coin is spineless Shira Weissman, whose post-cartoon apologetics echoed the cowardice of an Ayn Rand antagonist. She'll spend the night fitfully tossing; having stabbed her editor in the back, thus losing the respect of anyone with an ounce of self-dignity.

The Mohammed Bomb-Hat picture, which this meaningless rag has no problem publishing, set up a battle of the absolutes. Libertarians claim Freedom of Speech is unviolable; the culturally sensitive hate to see people frown. Absolutes can often co-exist, until the violation of one leads to the violation of the other. The irresponsible, blasphemeously unsensitive publication of a bomb-wielding prophet leads his bomb-wielding followers to blow stuff up. Transilation: this shit is NEWS! But when a culturally insensitive event leads to news, how does one straddle two absolutist causes? Further complicating the matter; how does a globalized press respect the cultural diversity of nations in which the "Freedom of Speech" is subservient to the rules of their autocratic leader and autocratic faith?

The Economist asked this same question, demanding to know where the slippery slope of politeness eventually muzzled freedom of the press. US & British presses did the brave thing in response to the cartoons: namely, nothing at all. French, Polish, Danish and Swiss presses ran the photos repeatedly in the name of freedom. Perhaps those of us never occupied by Soviets and Nazis should ask ourselves: have we enjoyed our freedoms for so long that we are willing to contemplate shackling speech in the name of something as arcane as polite society? Shira Weissman will happily lay down her pen for diversity's sake: too bad there are so many like her willfully sleeping the regretful, guilt-ridden rest of a coward.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Flash: Cheney Hunts People

Oh, snap! Harry Whittington, Texas attorney and vice-presidential hunting partner, you've just been Punk'd! Next time you best bring a bazooka if you wanna roll with the Vee to tha Pee, boyee!!

Seriously, a man's been shot. Look's like he'll be okay, though. Can't say the same for that dude Bobby Knight blew away that time, however. ... Kidding!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Porn: Super Bowl or Bust-y Edition

Never on the field of a football contest was so little worn by so many for so few. Hey man, if you missed last Sunday's Lingerie Bowl then you missed ... well, football played in lingerie. But what a game! The New York Bad Decision took on their perennial rival, L.A.'s Just-Doing-This-To-Pay-My-Way-Thru-Law-School-I-Swear. Here's Paige "I Hate You, Dad" Peterson celebrating (?) after her squad won the 30-minute pay-per-view event. Remember when it was cute to humor your totally "girly" girlfriend and let her play in a sandlot game with you and your buddies? Guess what: now people are shelling out 19.95 to watch that.

It's enough to make a small, incredibly intense cat wince.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Short Fuse...

Wondering what all the Mohammed with a Bomb Hat fuss is about. Count on an English-Language Israeli magazine to run the cartoon that incited the firestorm; with the sub-text reading, "But isn't being a suicide bombing shaheed a good thing?"

Lux et Veritas

In 1849, the Presbyterian affiliated College of California was merged with California A&M to form UC Berkeley. Echoing a New England Puritan's emphasis on education, founders saw this new public institution as the essential bedrock of a strong economy and democracy. In the 156 years that followed, California lavishly supported the UC system and its students; helping propel the state's tech-based economy, and doubtlessly influencing its referendum-intensive politics. California is now the 7th largest economy in the world, and the most dynamic state in the Union.

Pennsylvania's educational history is likewise rich and storied: boasting 16% of the Nation's Tier I Colleges, 4 top ranked Graduate Institutions and an Ivy League University. Mostly private, these schools represent billions in resources to the state free of charge. This 200+ year old system was founded on the same educational philosophy as the UC system: that all should be provided with an education. But Rush, Franklin and Carnegie's vision of an over-educated Pennsylvania has fallen by the wayside. Only state-affiliated Pitt and PSU provide affordable high-quality education targeted to Pennsylvanians. Private institutions, Presbyterian or otherwise, draw their students from afield, targeting those who can afford a $35k/yr. bill. Few remain once classes end, making it hard to sustain home-grown talent, and benefit from the brain-power bursting forth from our schools.

Fast Eddie's budget seeks in small ways to rectify this. Providing modest increases in all state-funded education from K-PhD, he makes a very small step towards providing better educational opportunities to every citizen of Pennsylvania through our broken public school system. The Jonas Salk Legacy Fund, $500M of leverage money for cash-poor start-ups bursting out of CMU, UPMC and Penn, might keep the best students from our institutions in Pennsylvania and improve our institutions' standings. We're never going to be as cheap as North Carolina, but the educational and cultural infrastructure exists to compete with California. We have to step up and invest like they did, or accept our position as a high-cost, anti-business, rust-belt state.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Porn: "You Have an Absolutely Breathtaking Heiney" Edition

Couple things the Italians do well: food, shouting, and sexy "fashion." Here's some of the more understated stuff (seriously) in the offing at the Italian Lingerie Show, part of an annual couture-a-thon, beginnning yesterday in Paris. Reservations are still available if you're interested in viewing some more girls who will never date you. Happy Valentine's Day!