Friday, February 27, 2009

Monkey Business

Dear American Public,

While the economy is in ruins, the war in Iraq goes on and unemployment rates are skyrocketing your elected officials in the House of Representatives have spent the last few days debating legislation of the transport of monkys across state lines.

Those are your hard earned tax dollars at work.

They are literally, working on monkey business. This is how very little they respect the American people, their constituents. We worry about our lives, our jobs, our economy, our war and they debate whether or not it should be legal to transport a monkey across state lines.

Those of you who voted for change should know that electing a new King won't do the trick. If you want change, maybe you need to find out who your representative is and give him or her a call, write a letter or send an email telling them that you don't appreciate them worrying about monkeys when you're having trouble putting food on the table.

Just a thought. Have a nice day.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Grand Old Party Poopers

After watching the new President, Barack Obama, give his address to the nation tonight, I was set to go to bed without comment. Then there was the Republican Response and…

Well, I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself. Oh, how the mighty have fallen and that chaos that is now the Republican Party has become a sad, sad mess. I realize all too well the irony of someone from Illinois criticizing the governor of anyone else’s state, but wow Louisanna! Your governor talks like someone who just finished his Hooked on Phonics course study!

And the Republican Response he gave was less of a response than it certainly was some camera time for an up and comer in the New Grand Old Party. It seems that in the huddle that must have occurred after President Obama was elected, the consensus must have been this: WE NEED SOME BROWN PEOPLE! DO WE HAVE ANY BROWN PEOPLE? SURELY WE HAVE TO HAVE A BROWN GUY OUT THERE SOMEWHERE!!!!

Sure enough, they found a brown guy to be the Republican Chairman and now they have a brown guy giving the Republican Response after President Obama’s speech today. This particular brown guy is Governor Robert Jindal and he’s the Hindu-reformed-to-Catholicism kind of brown. The result of the “do we have a brown guy” huddle produced some sad results indeed. Nothing against former Hindus, but I just don’t see a huge voting swing based on the Hindu vote in 2012. Still, the Repubs needed to show some diversity and some youth. They decided they needed to trot out a pony who wasn’t a pasty white guy. They had bupkiss in Congress, and had to settle for Jindal.

And what a sad choice it was too! Governor Jindal stepped up to the podium and told us about how Obama’s big government approach was a disaster waiting to happen and even had the nerve to compare it to the idiotic government response to Hurricane Katrina. (I believe the kids at this point do something called *facepalm*)

It takes balls to stand up in front of America and liken the then Republican-controlled government’s poor response to Katrina, to the now Democrat-controlled government’s plan to bail out the economy that the Repubs helped drive into the ground. I was left with my mouth hanging open. Governor Jindal, it must take a forklift to help you carry those cojones around sir!

I am not a believer in big government myself, but after eight years of Republican power in the executive branch, paired with 6 of those years during which there was Republican power in the legislative branch and the colossal failure that resulted, I’m ready to give another idea a chance. I’m willing to step back and admit that less, less, less, less, less government is not the key to fixing the economy as it stands today. Governor Jindal, on one hand apologized for that Republican clusterfuck, and in the very next breath, told you to trust the Republicans in Congress (most of whom are leftovers from the Bush years). I believe at this point, the kids are doing what they would call *headdesk*

Perhaps the greatest insult is that Governor Jindal’s state of Louisiana was offered $3.8 billion dollars of the recovery plan money. Governor Jindal accepted $3.7 billion of it. For those of you who are slow at math, like me, that’s just $1 million he’s turning down. He’s standing up in front of the country and telling everyone how bad Obama’s plan is and then taking almost all of the money his state is being offered? That smacks of hypocrisy to me.

Is this truly the great brown hope of the new, exciting, cutting edge, hip and cool Republican Party? If it is, I’m sad to say that Obama could let trained monkeys run the country for the rest of his term and still win re-election in 2012. I say this not because I want to see President Obama out, but because our government is at it’s best when both parties are full of intelligent and capable leaders.

The Grand Old Party is trying to change it’s image. They see that the Democrats got a young, charismatic, brown guy elected and have started trotting out their own. It strikes me that they prioritize the young, charismatic and brown above the capable and intelligent. Sadly, Governor Jindal was the best they could do. He came off like a buffoon. Trust me. I’m from Illinois. I know what a buffoon governor looks and sounds like.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Asterisk *

The big news is that Alex Rodriguez has admitted that, for a few years, earlier in his career, he did, in fact, use performance-enhancing drugs. I have to be honest. I just don’t care anymore. I’m just over it all. There are three major reasons why: The first is that the damage is done, the era is tarnished and from this point forward, it’s just a Salem-style witch hunt so that we can point fingers and ridicule the damned.

Second, is the fact that steroid use was not against the rules in baseball during the period during which drug use was so prevalent. There were positive tests and no punishments. No one cared. If it wasn’t against the rules, then how can we be so outraged over it?

And finally, it seems a little hypocritical of us to sit in judgment of these people. We all use performance-enhancing drugs.

The asterisk is the great symbol of this campaign against performance-enhancing drugs. Does that mean that a woman should shout out, “Asterisk!!!” post-coitus if her man used Viagra or Cialis? After all, he enhanced his performance didn’t he? Some men use those drugs to keep playing after their bodies decide it’s time for them to retire. Sound familiar?

Should your boss, at your annual review, mark your glowing report with an asterisk? After all, he or she has sat silently by and watched you bring your performance-enhancing drug, coffee, into the office every single day. No, they didn’t dare say anything. That one time you were running late and didn’t have time to stop for your coffee was lesson enough for them. You were a mess! You didn’t function properly until after noon. Without your coffee, you’re only good for half a work day—if that!

Should your salary be cut because you used a performance-enhancing drug? Should they take back that Employee of the Month plaque they gave you? After all, you used chemicals to be more effective in what you do. You cheated. Some poor sap in your office who doesn’t drink coffee and was a bit more sleepy in the mornings lost out on that award because of your use.

And college kids are going to need to be tested. The use of Ritalin and other drugs that help kids focus is through the roof. Kids that were diagnosed with attention deficit disorders make huge cash selling off extra pills on campus to fellow students pulling all nighters. Does that A you received deserve an asterisk? It’s not real after all. It’s the product of a substance you used that allowed you to study all night and achieve that grade. You didn’t do it on your own.

And the list goes on. It amazes me that we, as a society, can be so offended by our athletes using these performance-enhancing drugs when we regular folk so happily and unthinkingly use anything we can to get an edge.

It’s amazing that we so strongly and ardently defend the integrity of a game, but are so lax when it comes to personal integrity. Every man whose ever used that little blue pill should be ashamed, should he not? Every coffee drinker contrite for sins committed against their co-workers? This drug use is the byproduct of our culture. We’ll do anything to get ahead, won’t we?

We’ll cheat a cashier out of some extra change accidentally given to us. We’ll take credit for a project that was done by people under us at work. We’ll use that credit to get a promotion and a raise. Do we deserve asterisks?

I think that the things we so vehemently rage against are the things that hit closest to home and this steroid scandal is just such a case. We see these athletes making millions of dollars and we want to hold them to a standard higher than the ones we hold ourselves to don’t we?

We treat life like a competition. We compete for the nicest, biggest house, the most attractive spouse, the boat, the cottage on the lake, the biggest and best toys. We compete for these trophies and we’ll do what it takes to earn them, to show them to our neighbors and lord our boons over them. And what do we say when someone has more than we do? What excuse do we use?

We fall back on our supposed integrity. We reason that we can have what they do, if only we had been willing to do what they did to get it—to cross the same lines. This isn’t about drugs. It isn’t about stats or integrity or any of that. It’s about watching the mighty fall. It’s the enjoyment of watching someone once held so highly esteemed, now reduced to nothing.
Reduced to nothing, in this case, by asterisk-wielding hypocrites.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Here's to Sully, the asshole

Is it just me or is anyone else picking up on the fact that this pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenburger, who made the miraculous splashdown landing of a U.S. Airways flight in the Hudson river, just might be an asshole?

I’ve gone through a few different stages regarding the pilot known as Sully and after watching the 60 Minutes interview with Katie Couric, I’ve officially reached the asshole conclusion. First, I was impressed. Let’s face it, his act of heroism is undeniable. If I’m going up in a plane, I want this guy flying it. And it just may be the fact that he’s an asshole that makes him such a great pilot, so I’m not saying that he’s a bad person, just—you know, kind of a dick.

After being impressed, I went to admiration. He seemed to be avoiding the limelight. He didn’t want the attention. He just did his job. That stirred my admiration. Here’s a guy who is content to have done his job, had his fifteen minutes without shameless self-promotion and move on with his life. Yes. At this point, I was shouting from the rooftops that I admire and respected this man, as both a pilot and a human being.

Then came the Super Bowl. They trotted him out there with the crew of the plane. I was surprised. I thought this guy was avoiding the limelight. I thought he was content with his silent 15 minutes of fame. Then I thought: Wait. Free tickets to the Super Bowl? Okay, he’s a guy!!!! I’d let them trot me out like a prized pony for free Super Bowl tickets too! No problems there Sully, you’re still admirable and respected!

But then came the sit down with Couric and I got the distinct impression that if I was on this guy’s crew, I couldn’t go more then ten minutes before they’d have to pull me off of him. He’s kind of…smarmy! He reminds me of the kind of military man who never quite leaves the military behind.

Now look, I understand that not everyone is cut out for public life and interview-giving and actually being in the limelight, and that even a guy whose cool enough to land an engineless plane in a river can crack under the lights of Hollywood, but he didn’t crack. If he had stammered or been uncomfortable in the least, I’d have chalked him up as human and gone on with my life.

He wasn’t being human though; he was being inhuman. He was being robotic. If you consent to giving an interview and the interviewer asks you a leading question, you don’t answer with a yes or no and a stare challenging them to follow it up. I came away thinking, wow, some poor kid has to have him for a father. I came away thinking that this is the kind of guy who rouses his family at 5 a.m. every morning for family calisthenics. He came off like a soldier being interrogated by the enemy. Name, rank and serial number.

I can sense the righteous indignation rising up in my readership. This man saved lives!!!! I know, I know. I'm not saying that he's a bad person. I'm not saying that he is anything less than a hero. I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve all the accolades and kudos he's getting. I'm just saying, that when you listen to the guy speak, he's...kind of prickish.

So, yeah. I think Sully just might be an asshole. It's okay, there are worse things to be. After all, it takes one to know one and I know that Sully is an asshole. I'm just happy to see an good, old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness asshole being paraded around as the toast of the town. It gives assholes all over the world reason to hope...hope that our time, has finally come.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Last Dance for Mary Jane

I, like everyone else apparently, am greatly ashamed and horrified by the actions of our Olympic Golden Boy, Michael Phelps. Unlike everyone else apparently, I’m greatly ashamed and horrified by the way he put his tail between his legs and whimpered about how sorry he was for his inappropriate behavior after a picture of him smoking marijuana from a bong was printed in a British tabloid.

If you’ve seen the picture, you’ll infer from it I’m sure, as I certainly did, that this isn’t the first time or the 420th time even that the golden boy has taken old Mary Jane out for a date. With the evidence quickly plastered on every website and blog around the world though, Phelps became a meek, apologetic, cowering fool.

So much for the Superman image he had after his Olympic glory.

It seems the many corporate sponsorships he had took precedence over everything else and he hasn’t stopped apologizing since. I have to wonder though, if he and I were sitting alone in a room and off the record I asked him if he really thought he did something wrong, whether or not he’d still be apologizing so effusively.

He’s been citing his age, immaturity and poor judgment as the identifiable fatal flaws that led him down this lowly path. He has raised his hand, shown the Boy Scout salute and promised to be better in the future, and meanwhile, his generation groans.

Cojones shouldn’t be difficult to find for a man who wears a speedo to work. And had Michael Phelps given the world his honest, real answer to all of this, if he had decided to not kowtow to the almighty dollar and the national sense of honor, he just might have found out that by being bold, might powers may have indeed come to his aid.

We’re left to believe that Michael Phelps, shown in that photo sucking on a bong like it was air and he was under water, was a one-time offender. We’re asked to collectively pretend that this was an isolated case of poor judgment. And when he says the words to assure us of just that, we sigh, shake our fingers at the silly rascal and head comfortably back to our delusions or heroism.

What’s so wrong with admitting that yes, Michael, you do occasionally like to smoke pot? What’s wrong with saying that the mellow of smoking a little chronic to the A.D.D. generation—and Phelps does have A.D.D.--is no different than the buzz of a few beers was to the one before? If it had been pictures of him shotgunning a beer, the news story wouldn’t have gotten much more than a passing mention. There would be no controversy. It’s the cannsbis we’re all so worked up over.

And regardless of what your feelings may be on the subject, the time for a serious discussion about it’s legalization is long overdue. Just because you choose to believe it isn’t around every corner, at every party your children attend, in every school, doesn’t mean that it isn’t. It’s use, like a weed, has grown and thrived.

Phelps could have stood up, looked us all in the eyes and told us that he is the greatest Olympian of all time and that he is also a marijuana user. He could have said that he uses this non-addictive method to help chill out after intense workouts, after pressure-filled competitions, as a means of coping with attention deficit and that he isn’t ashamed of it. He could have stood up and told the world that he was still the same boy next door they had all been so proud of a few months before. Nothing had changed—in fact, he was simply being like the real boy next door now.

He could have stood tall and refused to think of what he was doing as shameful or wrong. He could have stood up to those who felt it was and asked them if his hard work, his dedication or his spirit had been effected? He had the image that coupled with a real message could have affected change for his generation.

Me? After reading this you may be surprised to find out that I’m not a fan of marijuana. It just holds no interest for me. That said, it doesn’t stop me from having my eyes open as I walk through this world. It’s here. It’s here to stay. People Phelps age use it like other generations have used beer or cigarettes. It’s everywhere. Superman, the golden boy Olympic swimmer could have brought about a serious discussion about its place in our society. Instead, he bowed and scraped. Heroes: Just another thing you can add to the list of things that aren’t what they used to be.
It’s sad. We could have used a good kick in the ass about the subject.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

...your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate

As things have unfolded over the past few weeks, and the Governor of my home state of Illinois has finally been removed, I’ve remained silent on the subject because some targets are just too easy. How do you lampoon a caricature? I mean, we’ve always had a good chuckle over Hot Rod Blagojevich’s hair, but as long as he was standing in the way of tax increases, installing open road tolling to make our commutes shorter, making medications cheaper for senior citizens and really doing a lot of great things for the state of Illinois, we really didn’t mind that much that he looked like a cartoon character.

Honestly, until this mess about selling Obama’s Senate seat came to light, most people thought he was doing a pretty decent job of being the governor. We looked at his hair and met it with a chuckle instead of an outright laugh. It’s okay to be funny looking in Illinois politics if you do a good job. Look no further than former senator Paul Simon for that proof.

And the truth of the matter is that until the scandal hit, Blagojevich didn’t go around acting like an ass either. He was typically well-spoken, poised and lucid. Sure, there were whispers of corruption, but it’s impossible to a politician in this state and not have corruption whispers. Hell, not long ago Chicago—the political corruption capitol of the world, arrogantly made it’s slogan, “The City that Works,” in what could only be a veiled reference to the fact that the system of corruption in place was a well-oiled, efficiently running machine.

Illinois residents aren’t really upset that Blago tried to sell Obama’s seat, though we’re not thrilled about the fact that he tried to extort one of our newspapers and a children’s hospital. We’re pissed that he, A) got caught, and B) acted like such as asshole after being caught.

The getting caught part is inexcusable and stupid. Richard Daley, the mayor of Chicago has been more crooked than a basket full of S’s throughout his long career as the mayor here. He gets things done though. He’s going to bring the Olympics to Chicago. He keeps our streets cleared of snow. He fills the potholes in front of our homes (as long as you’re a registered Democrat). Are there sweetheart deals in place regarding each of those things? Of course! Do we care? Nope. Will Daley ever find himself in a Blago-like mess? Of course not! Why? Because you can bet your sweet ass that while he waves the baton and conducts the orchestra, he’s always three or four steps away from the crime.

That’s what being a good politician means here. Get shit done. Keep the price tag low. We won’t ask. You don’t tell. Don’t make us look stupid. And that was Blagojevich’s second mistake. When he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar instead of having his cookies delivered to him, he went apeshit crazy!

When you look like a cartoon, you can’t afford to talk like one and that is precisely what Blago did. It took me a while to place it, but eventually I’ve gotten a handle on it. The absurd speech, the complete lack of sense and reason, the self-proclaimed martyrdom, the delusions of grandeur, the hairmet—he went from being the governor to being the Rick Moranis character Dark Helmet from the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs.

Coincidentally, when the leader of your state is running around, appearing on talk shows, howling at the moon and doing an impression of a Mel Brooks character, it’s pretty much the epitome of embarrassment for his constituents. And when the constituency is anchored by a city that disdainfully accepts the nickname of Second City and constantly puffs it’s collective chest when it betters any other American city in any way—you’ve officially committed the most unforgivable of sins.

And now we have a new governor. After Dark Helmet was removed from office by unanimous vote and banned from ever holding office in our state again, Patrick Quinn took over and promptly assured us all that corruption was over and better times were ahead. He told us that we the citizens of Illinois would have to sacrifice to clear up the $3 million in state debt, and then without blinking an eye, approved $30,000 to remove Dark Helmet’s name from every sign on every tollway in the state.

This move has been widely applauded. Better to pay the boys some overtime and have them remove signs over the weekend than to suffer a little more embarrassment by having to read Blagojevich’s name on the way to work. A state in debt happily pays to expunge it’s association with a caricature of a governor. We go a little further into debt. We’ll be asked to sacrifice a little bit more to clear it up. It almost makes you wonder if perhaps a cartoon state didn’t deserve a cartoon sheriff?