Wednesday, December 28, 2005

2005 Awards

Movie of the year-this was a bad year for movies so if I’m forced to choose one I’ll go with March of the Penguins. Morgan Freeman’s narration lent a touch class to a compelling documentary about emperor penguins in Antarctica. I was cold just watching it.

TV moment of the year-never before has reality TV witnessed the unmitigated carnage seen on The Apprentice in week seven. Four people were canned as Donald Trump executed the first quadruple beheading in reality TV history. It was diabolical.

Biggest bonehead-a man in Seattle entered into a challenge with a friend to see who could dangle from a highway overpass the longest. But our intrepid adventurer was apparently too fatigued from his endurance trial too climb back up the bridge. He fell to his death on the busy highway below. Unfortunately the diesel barreling down the highway at 60mph broke his fall. A very close second goes to a man in Zimbabwe who tried to deter elephants from trampling his maize by absconding with some unexploded landmines found in a nearby field. The unstable mines predictably exploded killing the man instantly. The man was later buried in a shoebox.

Self aggrandizing moment of the year-why would Terrell Owens, or anyone else for that matter, hold an impromptu workout in his driveway? Oh, that’s right, to grovel for his job back. Life went from the sublime to the surreal as T.O. whisked off his shirt and did sit ups for the press throng gathered at his humble abode. And as we all know it’s common for professional athletes to workout in their driveways. Drew Rosenhaus was never far from Owens’ side as a public apology was issued for Terrell’s nature of being the biggest pain-in-the-ass in sports.

Slimey moment-the afore mentioned Drew Rosenhaus’ performance in said driveway. Rosenhaus had the nerve to claim that Owens was an unwitting victim of an autocratic Philadelphia Eagles regime. The look on Owens’ face was priceless. His expression was saying, “Even I couldn’t make this stuff up.” Drew Rosenhaus spins stuff so much his tongue could open a wine bottle.

Too late-University of Colorado for letting Gary Barnett hang on as head football coach eighteen months longer than was necessary or even proper. Barnett took a once glorious football program and turned it into a laughing stock. Watching the Buffs under Barnett’s expert leadership was like watching a fraternity intramural flag football team well into its second keg of Fat Tire. And we won’t even mention the allegations of sexual impropriety, recruiting violations, and mishandled money.

Game of the year-Notre Dame vs. Southern Cal…Brady Quinn had just led the Irish down the field to go up 31-28. The Irish faithful were going nuts. Things looked bleak for the defending national champs. Then Matt Lienart took over. After converting a forth & sixteen, a catch that went 61 yards to Wayne Jarrett, the Trojans had a chance. A sweep to Lienart around the left side was halted by the Irish D, the clock seemingly ran out, and the fans stormed the field. But wait! The ball popped out and the refs put three agonizing seconds back on the clock. The setting…ball on the one, three seconds left, undefeated season on the line…what do you do? Simple, run a sneak with Leinart, let Reggie Bush push him across the goal line, game over.

Stupid injury- Colorado Rockies shortstop and Rookie of the Year candidate Clint Barmes, who was hitting .325 with 34 RBI’s and eight home runs, was walking up a flight of stairs with groceries in tow when he fell and broke his collar bone. It was later divulged that he was hauling deer meat up to his apartment when gravity intervened and turned Barmes from the front runner for ROY to a punch line.

Comeback of the year-on Septmber 15, 2001 race car driver Alex Zanardi was involved in a gruesome accident in a race at Germany’s Lausiztring Euro Speedway near Brandenburg. Zanardi’s career was over as both his legs were severed above the knee. But Zanardi never gave up. Fitted with prosthetic legs Zanardi rehabbed and made his return to racing in 2004. In 2005 he won his first race since losing his legs in ’01.

Sexiest woman-hmmmmmm, where to begin. Jennifer Garner was deliciously delectable in 2005 but she loses points for hanging out with that tool Ben Affleck. Jennifer Anniston turned into a whiney pain. Angelina Jolie is a freak. So this award goes to the incomparable, the sultry, the sublime Jessica Alba. Watching her in a skin tight super hero outfit in The Fantastic Four was like looking at fine art. Honorable mention goes to: Selma Hayek, Naomi Watts, Teri Hatcher, Eva Mendes, and Nicole Kidman.

Sexiest newscaster-I did a countdown of the sexiest newscasters back in May. My numero uno was Trich Regan with CNN and I see no reason to change my mind now. There are several others worth mentioning…Heather Nauert FOX, Laurie Dhue FOX, Brooke Anderson CNN, Megyn Kendal FOX, Melissa Stark MSNBC, Kiran Chetry FOX.

Ewwwwwwwww-a man near Seattle was charged in the death of another who allegedly trespassed on his farm to have sex with his horses. The trespasser died as a result of injuries from intercourse with the unsuspecting equine quadruped.

Evil personafide-a little league baseball coach was arrested after he instructed one of his players to deliberately injure a retarded kid on the same team. Seems the coach was tired of watching the disabled kid fumble around on the field so he told another boy to hit the kid with a bat. This guy’s destiny is sealed…see you in hell.

This has been the best & worst of 2005. Hope you enjoyed your stay.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Those we lost in '05

2005 saw some true giants in their fields pass. So here’s a melancholy farewell to some of our best & brightest.

Pope John Paul II-the most charismatic and accessible pope maybe ever led life on his own terms and devoted 60+ years to the Catholic church.

Richard Pryor-was recently voted by Comedy Central as the greatest comedian of all time. Arguably the most influential comic ever his caustic style paved the way for future greats like Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, and a whole host of others.

Johnny Carson-as host of the Tonight Show for over two decades he became a true American icon and one of the most beloved television personalities ever.

George Mikan-the first superstar big man in basketball led the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships and is regarded as the NBA’s first great center.

Max Schmelling-gained world wide fame as a pawn of Hitler’s Nazi party when he defeated Jo Louis in 1936. Louis would eventually regain his heavyweight title in 1938 on a first round knockout. After their legendary clashes the two warriors became fast friends until Louis’ death in 1981.

Rosa Parks-her act of defiance in 1955 sparked the civil rights revolution in America. Parks, an unknown seamstress, refused to give up her seat on the front of a Montgomery, Alabama bus for a white man. With this seemingly innocuous gesture Parks became one of the most important figures of 20th century America.

William Rehnquist-chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1986 to 2005 he served as one of the arbiters of conservative constitutional interpretation for decades. His 33 years of service on the Court is one of the longest tenures in history.

Others who passed in ’05-Peter Jennings, Terri Schiavo, Eddie Albert, William Mora, Hank Stramm, General William Westmoreland, Luther Vandross, Ossie Davis, Arthur Miller, Anne Bancroft, Johnnie Cochran, Hunter S. Thompson.

Friday, December 16, 2005

This just burns my ass

If there was ever a doubt about how far this president will stretch the Constitution we now have our answer.

Jr. sits in his ivory tower wiping his ass with the very document meant to protect us from gestapo like action of our government. Bush and his entire administration should be brought up on impeachment charges.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Greatest battle scenes

As a dyed in the wool movie buff I love coming up with lists. So here's my latest contribution...the best battle scenes of all time are profiled.

Lord of the Rings Return of the King-the assault on Minis Tirith was mesmerizing in the book but the movie version takes this epic battle and feeds it a few steroids. The catapult duals were unreal. When Theoden shows up with his Rohirim and cuts through the orc army like a sickle through grass every hair on my neck stood on end. Then the Haradrim show up with their monstrous mumakil, giant and fearsome elephants, and go at it with the Rohirim while Theoden gets tossed by a Nazgul. Aragorn shows up with the army of dead and carries the day, a plot variation from the book but it worked. This encounter was utterly gripping and losses were not so much witnessed as they were felt. Dizzying special effects combine with emotional pull to make this the best battle sequence ever put to film.

Apocalypse Now-many critics and lay persons contend that the part where the Huey helicopters attack the Vietnamese village to be the greatest action sequence ever. I’d be hard pressed to disagree. The formation of helicopters flies in out of the rising sun. About a mile out Robert Duval gives the now legendary command, “Put on psy war ops, and make it loud!” Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries blares and the village is reduced to rubble in a blurring sequence of buzzing helicopters, firing machine guns, and explosions galore. After the village is captured Duval utters yet another unforgettable line, “I love the smell of napalm in the morning…smells like victory.”

Empire Strikes Back-the ice planet of Hoth sets the stage for the coolest battle space has ever seen. The ominous sight of the Imperial AT-AT walkers punctuates the plight of the fledgling rebellion. Luke Skywalker does his Jedi bit and single-handedly brings down a walker but not before the rebel base is in ruin from the relentless onslaught of Darth Vader and his army. Great stuff!

Braveheart-Mel Gibson may not have directed the best battle scenes ever but they are probably the goriest. Multiple decapitations, dismemberments, and disembowelments abound. Then there’s Mel’s/William Wallace’s speech before the battle at Falkirk (sp?), “They may take our lives but they’ll never take our freedom!” When both sides charged then went careening into each other a pit formed in your throat and stomach as nervous tension gripped you in anticipation of non-stop blood letting.

Gladiator-the thing I liked about the opening sequence was its intensity. Ridley Scott really captures the frenetic energy that must have been ancient warfare. There’s blood spots and mud on the camera lenses, the fire catapults were deadly, and cold ruthlessness of the Roman war machine shone bright. Russell Crowe was gritty and dirty and wholly believable as a veteran general who’s just burnt out on the conquering thing.

The Matrix Revolutions-I had a hard time watching this movie because frankly it stunk. But the final battle where the sentinels attack Zion and the fight between Keanu Reeves and the deliciously evil Hugo Weaving as Mr. Smith were worth the price of admission. The numbers of squid-like machines were seemingly infinite while the humans countered with war walkers equipped with hellacious machine guns and two man rocket crews that eliminated the giant drills. Meanwhile, Neo is going toe to toe with Mr. Smith in Machine City in a realm where the laws of physics don’t apply. The special effects rival even the more celebrated Return of the King.

Kingdom of Heaven-Ridley Scott makes another appearance on this little countdown. The climactic battle lasts nearly thirty minutes and features a stirring catapult exchange, masses of tightly bunched fighters, and daring yet effective cinematography. Much like Revolutions this movie was mostly quite tedious but Ridley Scott knows how to get the blood pumping.

Saving Private Ryan-this movie grabs you by the balls and doesn’t let go. The opening D-Day scene is furiously intense and had me ducking for cover. World War II is depicted in raw and graphic realism. The film is grainy, the camera angles stark, and the mood throughout was somber. The cut sequences that show how confusing the fog of war can be were brilliant along with Tom Hanks’ gripping performance all lend to a truly gut wrenching experience.

Jason and the Argonauts-based on the ancient tale of the search for the Golden Fleece this movie has what for my money is the coolest battle outside Empire Strikes Back. When Jason and his merry band are confronted by denizens of living skeletons all hell breaks lose. The battle rages on as the skeletons pop up out of the ground. The imagery and effects are classic and timeless.

13th Warrior-yes Antonio Banderas as an Arab exiled for shagging the wrong girl is far fetched but hear me out. The set up for the last battle was great as the devout Muslim, Banderas, actually recites an ancient Norse prayer. As Ibn utters the closing line, “In the halls of Valhalla, where the brave will live forever”, the flesh eating enemy swarms down upon the Vikings and the lone Arab. The charismatic Buliwyf kills the leader of the blood-thirsty Bendo but succumbs to a previous wound. Far from the most artistic battle scene ever this one makes up ground with its heart.

Honorable mention-Gettysburg (the cannon barrages were stunning), Ben Hur, Platoon, Aliens

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The wonders of modern pharmichology

Seems there's a new drug out there that makes one a skosh loopy. So in my continuing efforts to enlighten the masses I've come up with a few names for this new marvel of modern chemistry.













Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Neverland comes to Dubai

So, the king of pop gets busted for using the ladies room?

Now he wants to buy property in the Middle East?

The walking freak show known as Michael Jackson just keeps on rollin'.

I give the over/under about six months before the United Arab Emirates deport or jail Jacko's pasty butt. Either that or they'll put Jackson's likeness on their currency.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The moving blues

I’m just now getting settled from moving into a new house and let me tell you these damn boxes aren’t getting unpacked until spring. I once read somewhere that on a psychological trauma scale of 1-100 moving rates about 95. When I originally read this article I scoffed at what I envisioned that those surveyed and the shrinks writing this tripe were a bunch of anal retentive weenies who were deathly afraid of change…hehehehe…not anymore. Those guys were sooo right. Here’s my list of things I’d rather do than subject myself to the horror of having to fold up the old tent flaps and relocate.

I’d rather masturbate with a cheese grater than move again.

I’d rather juggle chain saws than move again.

I’d rather see a proctologist named Dr. Hook than move again.

I’ll let Jehovah’s witnesses in before moving again.

I’d rather get circumcised with a chainsaw than move again.

A molten lead enema would be preferable to moving again.

I’d rather spend an evening with my ex-girlfriend than move again…oh how I hate her.

I’d rather surf the River Styx than move again.

I’d rather attend a mime convention than move again.

I’ll let Terrell Owens workout in my driveway before I’ll pack and move again.

I’d rather watch Gigli all day, every day for a week than move again.

I’d rather see the Back Street Boys and N’SYNC do a reunion tour than move again.

I’d rather listen to Fran Drescher and Arnold Schwarzenegger play Romeo and Juliet than move again.

Anna Nicole Smith will do linear algebra before I move again.

Drew Rosenhaus will study the canon of ethics before I move again.

I’d rather have George Bush as president for another four years than move again…wait a tick, I may have to rethink this one.

I’d rather receive an acupuncture treatment with a crossbow than move again.

I’d rather let a pregnant yak give birth on my bed than move again.

I’ll let Rosie O’Donnell sit on my face before I’ll move again.

I’d rather perform oral sex on a basset hound than move again.

I’d rather slam my head in a sliding glass door than move again.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Best video games ever

Since I first owned a computer many hours have been wasted playing video games. At times my vision blurred, my throat tightened from thirst, and day turned rapidly to night as my voracious appetite for distraction consumed anything it could get its teeth on. In short I’ve played literally hundreds of video games so I thought I’d put my two cents in on who rules the roost in the PC gaming universe.

1. Madden 2005-I’m proud to say I’ve been down with Madden since ’96. Seamless and crisp graphics plus intense game play in all modes makes Madden the crème de la crème in any platform. The best selling sports game ever crushes all comers in its genre. Since its intro Madden has been the best football sim going. The recently added owner’s mode ads yet another wrinkle where franchises can be moved to new locales and control of a team can be stripped if profits aren’t up to snuff. Madden, in short, freaking rules!

2. Unreal Tournament 2004-I ran out of adjectives trying to describe my favorite first person shooter but Unreal is as good as they come. The graphics engine is fabulous and if you try hard enough game play options are nearly limitless, especially with the mods package. The vehicles are sweet, the weapons fun (the flak cannon is my favorite), and the maps are rich and constantly changing. Many an hour was spent blowing the bejesus out of anything that twitched. Five stars, two thumbs up, A+, and whatever top rating goes to Unreal.

3. Call of Duty-I’m literally salivating waiting for COD II. Due in November Call of Duty follows American, Russian, and British soldiers, just like the original. Dubbed the most intense WWII game out there COD delivers on the hype. The Russians attack on Stalingrad had me literally ducking out of the way of German bullets. Every level is full of tense, balls-out war scenes where you play a soldier fighting the Germans, and not always successfully. Save early and often…you’ll need to.

4. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas-Ah the joy of beating down a San Andreas hooker. The new GTA features a HUGE map, hostile enemy gang bangers, helicopters, and even a tank. Whether you’re finishing missions, gaining respect, or just shooting anything/anyone in sight Grand Theft is never boring as you’re free to tour the map at your leisure. This franchise is controversial, popular, and addictive.

5. Diablo II-Long-time king of the hill Diablo was the original 3-D role-playing and still flies off the shelves. The best-selling PC game ever immerses the player in lavish settings with the customary demonic minions waiting to devour the wayward traveler. You can fight your way through the denizens of the three brothers using a druid, necromancer, amazon, sorcerer, barbarian, or paladin. While the barbarian is easily the best fighter the paladin gets the best equipment and the sorcerer is fun at higher levels. Game-play can get a bit tedious but I’ll be slapping down my deposit for a copy of DIII, rumored to be released next spring.

6. Knights of the Old Republic-When I bought KOTR my friend Duditz said, “Welcome to crack.” Bastard was right. I skipped lunch AND dinner the first day I got it. The graphics are unbelievable and the action is nonstop. For fans of Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars KOTR is the best of both worlds. An intricate story line gasses up the Star Wars fan in as does the quest for the elusive and mythical light saber. The second installment is great and has new features (you have to assemble your own saber) but falls short on story. This game should come with a withdrawal patch.

7. Deus Ex-This one’s for those of us who always wanted to be a spy. You play Dues, a high tech espionage machine built for mayhem. While the weaponry can be somewhat limited the story line, graphics, and fairly open-ended game play more than make up for any shortcomings. The potential for better weapons, skills, and implants drive the play and suck in all but the most hardcore.

8. Tiger Woods 2004-FOUR! Five. Six. Seven. As a rank amateur get used to scores way over par. The scenic beauty of TW along with the insanely funny color commentary help get over the frustration of hitting one in the water on the famous Island Green at the TPC or the floating green at Couer D’Alene. Eighteen courses await fledgling golfers including the two sinister Predator and Highlands venues. Once you’ve reached master level you can make any shot, drive the ball 360 yards, and putt like Tiger himself. Win tournaments, make money, jack up your skills, and flail away. TW is truly the best golf game ever.

9. Medieval: Total War-If you like civilization sims and pitched warfare you’ll love Total War. First you build your armies then you conquer your neighbors as one of a dozen different medieval cultures. An added feature that kicks booty is the ability to fight battles on a micro level…you control your different formations, groups, tactics, and ultimately the outcome. Then the Golden Horde comes as a sim of Genghis Khan’s ride through eastern Europe and anyone caught in way is immediately eviscerated. Then build back up and drive the horde back. Whoever has the most territory at the end wins.

10. The Sims I & II-I love this game! Play head of a household, get a damn job, pop out a few puppies or buy one, and buy stupid stuff. This is the ultimate role play sim and can be racy if you download the nude patch. Grrrrr. Be ready to get sucked into a fantasy life where you play God and there are no rules.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Mr. Ed?

Only in America. Well maybe Europe (those freakin' sickos)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Where's my rake?

Oh, there it is.

Sorry for the interuption.

I'mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm back!

Not in full effect yet but still recovering. My return to the blogosphere was delayed a bit by that Minnesota sex cruise......I'm STILL tired. Thanks Billy, Jamie, Elmo, Johnny, digital, and difster for your thoughts.

Me thinks they can be called Viqueens no more. Somewhere Caligula is blushing and Vox is weeping.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

See ya on the flip side

Well ladies & gentlemen, yours truly, Ihatedashrub/Holy Hand Grenade is going into the hospital tomorrow morning for some surgery on my leg. I go under the knife Tuesday morning at 7:30 and will be convalescing for a few weeks. So you, my loyal readers, all three of you, wish me luck and FIGHT THE POWER. I'll return in a few weeks with more dim witted ramblings for your reading pleasure. Take care all and thanks for everything...I'll miss you.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I am soooooo there

Seems as part of its 2006 World Cup gala host nation Germany is setting up brothels for the convenience of football/soccer fans that will flock en masse to Berlin, Dortmund, and ten other sites. God love those Germans and their organizational skills.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Fantasy football primer

As the NFL season mercifully approaches thoughts turn to local allegiances, Super Bowl predictions, and of course fantasy football. So I now bring you, subject to change at my whim, pre-season awards, prognostications, and other useless stuff.

Best player-He lit up score boards last year like no quarter back ever did and this year Peyton Manning should not fall off much, if at all. He still has Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerin James, and an underrated Dallas Clark at tight end. Plus Brandon Stokely gives Manning arguably the best third WR in the game. This offense is flat out scary.
Best RB-LaDanian Tomlinson has been the best back in football for three years and has a passing game that will take much of the heat off his back. In each of the last four years he’s rushed for an average of over 1400 yards, 13 TD’s, and 75 receptions out of the back field. LT should get better as his O-line improves and Drew Brees and/or Philip Rivers solidify the quarterback position, and the scary thing…he’s only 26.
Best WR/TE-Love him or hate him you can’t argue with the fact Randy Moss is the most explosive player in football. Moss can get 1500 yards and 15 TD catches a year in his sleep and can dominate a game at will.
Best QB-see above
Best K-Jason Elam has the tantalizing combination of accuracy and a booming leg. He can hit 55+ yard field goals with frightening ease and has the added benefit of a loaded offense that puts him into field goal position early and often.
Best D-It’s hard to ignore a unit that’s led defensive scoring six out of the last seven years. From a fantasy perspective the Ravens’ D is the gold standard.
Best sleeper-There are several guys out there who will be sneak up on everyone and have balls out years…Tiki Barber is the Giants’ best offensive players and very quietly one of the top five backs in football…Corey Dillon pumps out 1400 yard seasons with frightening regularity and the Patriots will ride his legs until he drops…Clinton Portis is the most physically gifted back in football and if Joe Gibbs ever learns how to use him he’ll be an elite runner again…if Michael Vick can learn how to recognize defenses and can get bona fide receivers to throw to the kid will be terrorizing defenses and giving coordinators nightmares...with Chad Johnson to throw to Carson Palmer has the complimentary talent to break out for 3400 yards and 25 TD’s…it’s hard to believe that a guy who can get 1200 yards receiving and ten TD’s whenever he wants is a sleeper but that’s what Joe Horn is, he quietly has strung together five straight seasons of 80+ catches…with Chad Pennington now throwing him the ball look for Laveranues Coles to put up big numbers.
Most overrated-Santana Moss was supposed to be a top five receiver last year but limped to 838 yards and five touchdowns…Javon Walker ended his hold out but Brett Favre was pissed about the contract demands and Walker plays the most dependent position in sports…Aaron Brooks has the physical talent to be a top flight QB but he’s way too erratic to be relied on as anything but a fantasy back up…Deuce McCallister will get you 160 yards and three scores one week and will disappear for the next month…Jamal Lewis will never come within 500 yards of his 2003 season total of 2,066 yards.
Late round gems-Look for Arizona’s J.J. Arrington to get 1100 yards and ten TD’s…if Ricky Williams returns to his bruising former self he could be a late round steal, especially if he gets traded to Jacksonville or someone else in need…if he’s available past round 8 snatch up Drew Brees, you won’t be sorry…Troy Williamson goes into the season as the Vikings’ No.3 receiver but look for him to push for a starting spot by September…Lee Evans closed last season with a flourish and was arguably the hottest receiver in the league the last five weeks of ’04.
Players to avoid-never, ever, ever start Matt Hasselbeck, has great receivers but this offense will break your heart…the Vikings have a running back by committee approach so avoid purple RB’s…Jerome Bettis will get 25 yards and a TD, big deal…Ashley Lelie has big play potential but he is oft times invisible.
Never bench ‘em-All he does is rack up 150 yards total offense and score at least one touchdown every week so anyone who benches Edgerin James is clinically insane…Jimmy Smith has been one of the most consistent wide outs in the NFL for ten years and is Byron Leftwich’s favorite target…Marvin Harrison is the best receiver on the best offense the game has ever seen…Brett Favre gets 250+ passing yards and two TD throws like clockwork…Trent Green and Tony Gonzalez are the lynch pins of a powerful offense that’s capable of breaking the bulbs on the score board.
Rookies to watch-Cedric Benson, Carnel Williams, Ronnie Brown, J.J. Arrington, Mike Williams, Mark Clayton, Braylon Edwards, Troy Williamson, Roddy White, Reggie Brown.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Saturday, July 23, 2005

What price security?

Reported on this months ago but now Congress finally gets the memo.

George Orwell looks more like a prophet every day.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Brain floss on a Thursday

If I ever meet the person responsible for inventing spyware/adware there will be no measure for how miserable I’ll make them…be afraid, be very afraid.

So, now the Broncos have Cleveland’s defensive line? I’m under-Fing-whelmed.

I’ve discovered the secret to driving in any downtown area of a major metropolitan city…don’t signal. It’s a sign of weakness.

Thank you God for bringing about the end of the labor impasse in the NHL, I don’t think I could’ve taken another spring of just basketball and baseball.

Would someone please tell me what the big deal is about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? So you shoot up the town and get laid…big deal.

Rush Limbaugh is such a Bush sycophant. When has he ever been critical of anything Jr. has done? Limbaugh genuflects to Jr’s visage so much his pants are baggy.

I actually saw some guy walking down the street in a bright ass pink Izod polo shirt with the collar turned up, with pastel plaid shorts, and topsiders. Did I miss the memo? Are the 80’s back? If I EVER get caught sporting a look like this tool I give anybody reading this full permission to shoot me in the forehead.

When all is said & done Halley Berry will go down with Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Nefertiti, and Marilyn Monroe as one of the most gorgeous women in history.

Worst love song-anything by George Michael…he was singing to guys. *shudder*

Best love song-With or Without You by U2. Bono has said that he’ll keep making music until he records the perfect song. New flash Bono, you’ve already succeeded.

Please tell me Jr. didn’t do this.

I miss Cheers. For my money Cheers was the best sit-com ever.

If I eat much more Mexican food I’m going to sprout a burro out of my ass, grow a cheesy mustache, and play mariachi music in el barrio.

Channel 9 here in Denver just did a story discussing the merits of push-up bras. God love ‘em.

Tommy Lee & Pam Anderson are getting back universe makes sense once more.

Must go y’all.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Great sports moments; or, why I watch sports

Best things/moments in sports; or the times when it’s great to be a sports fan in no certain order...

1. Game 7 of a Stanley Cup playoff series (nothing matches the intensity of the NHL playoffs)
2. Game 7 of the World Series
3. 2:00 left, ball on your own twenty, John Elway under center
4. 1:30 left, ball on your 30, Joe Montana under center
5. Michael Jordan pouring in 63 against Boston in the playoffs
6. Ray Bourque hoisting the Stanley Cup
7. Tiger winning the Masters by twelve strokes
8. Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame
9. Secretariat obliterating the field at Belmont...he won by 35 lengths
10. Lance Armstrong with the yellow jersey (God damn French)
11. The Miracle on Ice
12. Jim Valvano running around like a chicken with its head off after NC State upset Phi Slamma Jamma (rest in peace Jimmy)
13. Villanova upsetting Georgetown
14. Jim McMahon getting knocked the F out against Green Bay
15. First Bronco home game
16. Watching Anna "What a" Kournikova bounce seductively in a white mini skirt
17. A hot dog at Yankee Stadium
18. A micro brew at Coors Field...followed by three hours of shitty baseball
19. Meeting Peter Forseberg who's the nicest guy, BTW
20. No annoying chicks with annoying questions
21. Mike Tyson getting his face beat in by some journeyman
22. John Rocker getting crushed in the minors
23. Randy Moss running a deep pattern
24. Marvin Harrison catching a TD
25. Jerry Rice working harder than everyone
26. Michael Jordan switching hands in mid air and making the lay-up
27. John Stephen Akhwari finishing the marathon in the ’68 Olympics. When asked why he didn’t just quit after falling and dislocating his knee Akhwari responded, “My country did not send me 7000 miles away to start the race. They sent me 7000 miles to finish it.”
28. Jack Nicklas winning the ’86 Masters
29. Sugar Ray Leonard humbling Roberto Duran in the “No Mas” fight
30. Muhammed Ali standing over George Foreman after knocking him to the canvas
31. Listening to the silky smooth Vin Scully broadcast a baseball game
32. Hearing the crowd groan after Steve Atwater knocked Christian Okoye into next week
33. Watching Barry Sanders dart around like a scared rabbit
34. Al Michaels’ call as the clock wound down on the Miracle on Ice…”Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
35. John Madden diagramming a play and going “Boom!”
36. Chris Berman doing his schtick on ESPN
37. Charlie Steiner losing it and laughing for five minutes straight on Sportscenter
38. Ricky Waters crying at the national anthem the first game after 9-11
39. Lawrence Taylor hunting down quarterbacks
40. Cal Ripken and 2131
41. Lou Gehrig giving his speech at Yankee Stadium
42. Willie Mays making the over-the-shoulder basket catch in deep center field

*Update* 7/19-05
There were some glaring omissions in my list...
43. Tom Brady's humility. He gave up an opportunity to demand $10 million per year for the betterment of the Patriots. That's a man.
44. Red Sox beating the hated Yankees and sweeping the Cards to shake off 86 years of Ruth's curse.
45. That 75 yard hail Mary from Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook that broke the hearts of 103,000 at Michigan Stadium.
46. John Elway getting pin-wheeled on 3rd & 6 that gave the Broncos the adrenaline boost needed to beat Green Bay
47. Doug Flutie’s last second heave that beat Miami
48. Turner Gill and his incomplete pass that got batted down by Miami to give the ‘Canes the national title in 83
49. Watching CU take the field behind a real buffalo
50. Bobby Thompson’s “Shot heard around the world”
51. The US making it to the final eight in the 2002 World Cup
52. Watching Pele
53. Jesse Owens taking Hitler’s “Aryan superiority” myth and blowing it out of the water
54. In the ’32 Berlin Olympics Hitler demanded every country dip their flag as they passed by the Fuhrer…the only country that refused was the United States of America
55. Jackie Robinson breaking down the color barrier in baseball
56. Ronnie Lott cutting a path of destruction through opposing receivers
57. Jim Everett jumping across the table to shove Jim Rome…he so had it coming
58. Shannon Sharpe taunting the late Derek Thomas so bad that Thomas eventually lost it and got ejected
59. Nobody could talk smack like Muhammad Ali
60. DU winning back-to-back NCAA titles in hockey…I went to law school at DU

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Nil Indigne

At long last the definitive sports awards show you’ve all been waiting for. The ESPYS are but mere table scraps compared to the sublime awards show known simply as Wolf’s Nipple Chips. And now our host, Thine Holy Hand Grenade *queue thunderous applause*

Oops, I broke it again…over the years far too many athletes have had potentially brilliant careers marred by injuries. Sadly, some of the unfortunates are also some of the most decent human beings in sports. So, in order to honor the shining stars that bore crutches instead of records here’s the best of the gimps. Terrell Davis, Grant Hill, Ken Griffey Jr.
The Golden Wheel Chair goes to…Jr. was on pace to break Hank Aaron’s 745 home run mark but injuries started derailing Griffey in ’99 and he hasn’t been the same player since. Once the unquestioned best player in baseball, Junior played with an abandon that ultimately led to a fractured wrist, bad knees, and shoulder problems.

Dammmmnnnnnn…I was innocently watching Monday Night Football in 1985 when I saw Joe Theisman’s leg snap like a dry twig. It was one of the most horrific injuries in sports history. But it’s not the worst. The nominees are…Clint Malarchuk, Hasim Rahman, Gerald Wilhite.
The Bloody Crutch goes to…with all due respect to Theisman; Clint Malarchuk had a skate open his jugular vein in a hockey game in ’89. Blood jetted out onto the ice and several players actually threw up. Yes Wilhite’s leg spun 270 degrees and Rahman had a lump on his head that looked like a pulsating alien cocoon but Malarchuk nearly bled to death in front of 17,000 people.

Bet you can’t eat just one…Evander Holyfield still has the chunk missing from his ear courtesy of Mike Tyson. Who can forget Holyfield recoiling as Tyson chomped down on the cartilage, tearing a not-so-small piece out of the ear, and spitting it out onto the canvas? I guess we should feel lucky Tyson didn’t chew and swallow. This category is Tyson’s alone and as such he receives the Pile o’ Raw Meat awarded to such luminaries as Alfred Packer, Jeffrey Dahmer, and the Donner party.

My head won’t fit through the door…there are egos and then there are egos. Professional sports athletes naturally have to possess a lot of confidence but some go beyond the pale. This is a salute to the egomaniac in all of us. The nominees are…Terrell Owens, Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant.
The Globe of World Dominance goes to…Barry Bonds has always fancied himself the next Willie Mays and Kobe did single-handedly orchestrate the departure of Shaq and Phil Jackson but Terrell Owens had the balls to call out his own quarterback after he was on the receiving end of nine catches for 132 yards in the Super Bowl. Now Owens is demanding a pay increase even though he stands to make over $7 million next season and is one of the highest paid receivers in football. When a man who plays the most dependant position in sports disses the man responsible for getting him the ball (as he did with Jeff Garcia & Donavan McNabb) you almost have to stand in admiration of the hubris necessary to bite the hand that feeds.

Delusions of adequacy…how many times have we seen over-hyped athletes burn out or not live up to the lofty heights predicted by others and themselves. So, to honor those who are woefully overrated we present the nominees…Derek Coleman, Keyshawn Johnson, Ryan Leaf.
The Fickle Finger of Fate goes to…Charles Barkley once said that Coleman was the most physically gifted basketball player he’d ever seen. The only thing that stood between Coleman and legendary status was that abscess that resides atop his neck.

Where’s the love?…some athletes fly under the radar yet have brilliant careers. Here’s to the underrated and forgotten…Curtis Martin, Steve McNair, Joe Sakic.
The Golden Thumbs Up, Way Up goes to…he’s compiled ten straight seasons of 1000+ yards and sits at forth all-time on the NFL rushing list. Only Emmett Smith, Barry Sanders, and Walter Payton have more career rushing yards than Curtis Martin. He is the ultimate warrior who’s been the most consistent back in football for ten years. All hale Curtis Martin and remember him for such unassuming athletes are rare indeed.

I’m Velvet Jones…athletes have been notorious for their off-the-field exploits and have hooked up more often than Warren Beatty and Benjamin Franklin combined. Only rock stars can match the carousing of professional athletes. The nominees for the biggest slut puppies are…Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and Mike Tyson.
The Red Light goes to…Mike Tyson and Wilt are narrowly edged out by the Magic man. According to his team mates Magic got more ass than a driver’s seat in a rental car and nobody really believes Wilt shagged 10,000 women in his lifetime. Sadly Magic, as a result of his nefarious ways, contracted HIV and retired far too soon. The best ambassador the NBA ever had will always be remembered for his style on the court and his deeds of it as well. A melancholy salute to Magic…may he always have that electric smile.

Nonsense, it’s just a flesh wound…I dislocated a finger, broke two toes, and had torn rib cartilage playing rugby in high school. One night I got up to pee and kicked the corner of my dresser with the afore mentioned broken toes. Stars filled my head and I just sat there and whimpered for fifteen minutes cradling my throbbing foot with both hands and rocking back and forth. At that moment I developed deep respect for those that can suck it up and play through pain. The nominees for the most oblivious to pain are…Steve McNair, Ronnie Lott, Emmett Smith.
The Black Knight Statuette goes to…all you gotta know about the winner of this award is that when faced between the choice of having season ending surgery or having his pinky amputated Ronnie Lott chose to live life with nine fingers rather than miss playing time.

Push me shove you, oh yeah says who…sometimes a bench clearing brawl can be cathartic. We now honor the best sports brawl of all time…Pistons-Pacers ’04, Avalanche-Red Wings ’98 & ’99, Rangers-Bruins ’79.
The game was lopsided and things started getting chippy. As the clock wound down Rangers’ fans showered the ice with debris and started assaulting Boston’s Stan Jonathan. After that Jonathan’s teammates charged into the stands pummeling the Ranger faithful. The melee went on for nearly fifteen minutes and four fans were sent to jail. This little disagreement earns the Silver Spittoon.

Mind if we dance with your dates…there are just some men you shouldn’t trifle with. Since this award is so coveted we’ve expanded the field. The nominees are…Dick Butkus, Ty Domi, Lawrence Taylor, Ronnie Lott, Greg Lloyd, Steve Atwater, Ray Nitschke, Lyle Alzado.
Since this man is so bad he doesn’t get a trophy because he’d probably eat it. Lawrence Taylor was maybe the most feared athlete ever. In an interview John Elway said the only player he was genuinely afraid of was LT. More so than any defender ever offenses had to know where Taylor was at all times. His intensity bordered on maniacal and he’s the only player ever to need rabies shots at half time.

Butter fingers…sometimes watching a supposedly gifted athlete try to control the ball is like watching an epileptic eat Jell-O with chop sticks. In other words it’s just painful. The nominees for worst hands are…Mark Eaton, Danny Shayes, Garo Yepremian.
The Stone Hands Award goes to…as a life long Nuggets fan Danny Shayes was the bane of my existence throughout the 80’s. He shot lay-ups like he was throwing a shot put. His free throws were decent but the man’s hands were seemingly made out of granite.

Idiot sans savant…player interviews are generally the only opportunity for the athlete to put a face to the game. While most present themselves quite well others should NEVER open their big dumb mouths. The top dumbasses are…Mike Tyson, John Rocker, Freddie Mitchell.
The Village Idiot is, make your way to the podium, if you can find it…not only did Mitchell talk smack about the Patriots before the Super Bowl he then proceeded to diss Jacksonville, his own quarterback, Terrell Owens, and the Patriots (AGAIN) after having one catch for thirteen yards. His career stats-5 years, 90 catches, 1263 yards, 5 TD’s. News flash Freddie, Terrell gets those kinds of numbers in one season…in his sleep.

How did that happen?...while Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was by no means ugly her temper wins this award for Worst Sports Wife hands down. Lopes burned down Andre Rison’s house in a fit of rage. Tragically the enigmatic Lopes died in a 2002 car wreck in Honduras. Rest in peace Left Eye.

Must be the money…with all that testosterone flowing through their veins you’d expect professional athletes to hook up with uber hotties. But some butt ass ugly guys have drop dead gorgeous better halves. Here’s the pick of the litter of fine women with freakin sasquatch-looking mates…Bridgette Wilson (Pete Sampras), Elsa Benitez (Ronnie Seikaly), Carmen Electra (Denis Rodman’s ex).
This is a flat-footed tie. All three nominees will receive the coveted Bronze Yeti for their devotion to the ugly man in their lives.

You need the Heimlich…we’ve all seen the mind numbing collapse of many an athlete. So here are the nominees who’ve gagged when the pressure is on…Greg Norman, New York Yankees, Jean Van De Velde.
The Fist to the Sternum goes to…this is a team award. The Yankees were up 3-0 in the ALCS. They had just won Game 3 by a score of 19-8. The Sox were all but finished. Then the unthinkable happened. Boston won Game 4 to prolong the inevitable. Then they won Game 5 and the series stood 3-2. You could see the look on the Yankees’ faces as David Ortiz ended the 14 inning marathon that was Game 5. Then the Yankees dropped Game 6 as Boston’s Curt Schilling bled and dazzled. At this point the Yankees looked as if they were in the midst of an out-of-body experience. Game 7 saw the Red Sox exorcise 86 years worth of demons. This was a choke job for the ages. You have to go back to biblical days when Goliath gagged against David to find a collapse this epic in proportion.

Oh shit!...ever been caught with your hand in the cookie jar? It happens to the best of us so it stands to reason even athletes have the occasional lapse in judgment. The nominees for biggest brain fart are…Carmelo Anthony, Eugene Robinson, Ray Lewis.
The Golden Queef goes to…not only did he get busted soliciting a prostitute he did it the night before the Super Bowl. To compound matters he was playing the very team he called “not that good” in the previous Super Bowl. By the way, Eugene Robinson was on the losing side two years in a row. Oops.

Bring us a shrubbery…there’s really only one worthy candidate in this award. Just for future reference all you sports officials, if you’re going to strike at least come to the table with one bargaining chip. I laughed my ass off when the umpires from MLB and the refs from the NBA actually went on strike. They bellied up to the table with no chips, a pair of twos, and egg on their collective faces then they proceeded to demand better pay & working conditions. All the observers issued a collective “Huh?” This is truly the most ridiculous demand in sports history.

Hatfield vs. McCoy…face it, we all love a good blood bath and nothing produces the unmitigated carnage of a heated rivalry. The nominees for best rivalry are…Alabama-Auburn, Michigan-Ohio State, Army-Navy.
The Bloody Band-Aid goes to…college football has spawned arguably the five best rivalries in sports and the annual grudge matches that are Miami-Florida State and Texas-Oklahoma aren’t even nominated. For sheer hatred and animosity Alabama-Auburn is the nastiest rivalry ever. Only the acrimony between France & Germany can compare. Fights between the respective schools’ pep squads are common and both teams have an insane loathing of one another.
Honorable mention to the Pakistan-India cricket matches. Both countries literally shut down when this series is played. The political tension just ads fuel to the fire of the ugliest international rivalry in the world.

Two men enter, one man leaves…when there is ill will on a personal level it just ads spice to the mix. Here are the nominees for best personal rivalry…Ali-Frazier, Borg-McEnroe, Kobe-Shaq.
The Golden Middle Finger goes to…these two men genuinely despise each other and have since the Diesel went to LA. Kobe has leveled vicious smears towards Shaq and Shaq has responded in kind. The fact they won three NBA titles is a testament to their talent, not their team work.

The show’s running over so good night.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

From Beijing to DC

This could get ugly. From the Washington Post...

SHANGHAI, July 4 -- The Chinese government on Monday sharply criticized the United States for threatening to erect barriers aimed at preventing the attempted takeover of the American oil company Unocal Corp. by one of China's three largest energy firms, CNOOC Ltd.

Four days after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging the Bush administration to block the proposed transaction as a threat to national security, China's Foreign Ministry excoriated Congress for injecting politics into what it characterized as a standard business matter.

"We demand that the U.S. Congress correct its mistaken ways of
politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. "CNOOC's bid to take over the U.S. Unocal company is a normal commercial activity between enterprises and should not fall
victim to political interference. The development of economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States conforms to the interests of both sides."

Those words, the latest rhetorical volley in an escalating trade
battle, officially elevated the takeover battle for Unocal into a bilateral
issue involving Washington and Beijing, raising the stakes of the outcome.

CNOOC's bid comes as China's emerging force in the global economy
continues to sow international tensions over competition for natural resources, impacts on the environment, trade balances and security relationships. The deal would be the latest in a string of Chinese purchases of foreign companies as Beijing encourages domestic firms to seek new markets abroad and secure raw materials for China's aggressive industrialization. The Chinese government has
urged energy companies in particular to buy foreign oil fields as China's consumption soars, deepening worries about the country's access to supplies.

Already, CNOOC's bid has taken China across a new threshold: It has
unleashed the first takeover battle between a Chinese company and a U.S. firm, the oil giant Chevron Corp., which has its own deal to buy Unocal, for $16.5 billion. If completed, CNOOC's purchase -- its bid is for $18.5 billion -- would be the largest foreign takeover ever made by a Chinese firm.

But as the price of oil continues to soar, underscoring the finite
supply of global stocks, some members of Congress portray China's appetite for energy as a threat to U.S. interests. They are painting CNOOC's effort to buy Unocal as an attempt to siphon off oil that would otherwise land in the United States, a proposition that analysts call dubious because most of Unocal's outstanding contracts supply customers in Asia...

There's no way in Hell the United States government can let this deal go through. That said I'll be extremely interested to see if the stockholders of UNOCAL put patriotism and national security over the $2 BILLION net gain from the bid made by CNOOC. With oil at $60 a barrel and predictions that gas may climb to $3 a gallon by summer's end we need to be fiercely protective of our own oil reserves. I fully anticipate a nice proxy bloodbath over this one.

China has proven to be a formidable economic adversary but it's their militaristic and dogmatic approach to foreign affairs that frightens the bejesus outta me. They'd just as soon shoot first as negotiate. And if they attempt to seize Taiwan the shit's really gonna hit the fan. Between China and N. Korea this country has its work cut out for it in SE Asia. According to the CIA fact book China has over 13 MILLION males reach military age anually and their total manpower availability (males 18-45) is over 340 MILLION. We need to arm Japan and S. Korea to the freakin' teeth.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Of Richard Durbin and Treason

About a week ago Illinois Senator Dick Durbin uttered his now infamous Pol Pot/Nazi comparison to conditions at GITMO. While these remarks were inflammatory and hopelessly misguided they didn’t, contrary to what some right-wing bloggers and conservative pundit Hal Linsey claim, amount to treason. Those on the right would have Durbin’s head for allegedly giving aid and comfort to our terrorist enemies. So Linsey et al would equate Durbin with the Rosenberg twosome, Alger Hiss, Benedict Arnold, and John Walker Lind. How nice.

From a Constitutional point of view one could make the argument that Durbin had qualified immunity to say whatever the hell he wanted because his comments were part of a Senate floor debate. Under Article 1 Section 6 Congressmen, “Shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.” If Durbin indeed made his statements outside the protective confines of the Senate Chamber then he might face a different set of problems then incurring the ire of the right.

Since Durbin’s liability hinges on whether his comments were truly treasonous let’s look at the definition of treason. In merry old England the concept of treason was amorphous and carried with it dire consequences. Two types of treason were delineated in the United Kingdom; petty treason and high treason. Petty treason was murdering one’s superior. High treason consisted of: 1) When a man doth compass or imagine the death of our lord the king, of our lady his queen, or of their eldest son and heir; 2) If a man do rape the king's companion, or the king's eldest daughter unmarried, or the wife of the king's eldest son and heir; 3) If a man do levy war against our lord the king in his realm; 4) If a man be adherent to the king's enemies in his realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm, or elsewhere. Those found guilty were often hanged, drawn, and quartered. Women found guilty of treason were often burned alive at the stake.

Since the British application of the term treason was arbitrary at best and the punishment was a protracted and cruel execution the Founding Fathers of these United States sought to more clearly and succinctly define treason. As defined in Article 3 of the Constitution treason is waging war against the U.S. or giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The case law on what constitutes treason is fairly settled. In the history of the U.S. fewer than forty prosecutions for treason have taken place yielding a handful of convictions. Even Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were only found guilty of espionage and they sold nuclear secrets to the Soviets. None of the couple dozen or so convicted were found guilty for the utterance of mere words. Aaron Burr was not found guilty of treason even though he allegedly conspired with Spain and England shortly after the American Revolution. John Brown took part in murders just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Brown’s abolitionist acts defied the will of slave owners in the south and he paid for his deeds with his life. During WWII twelve people were punished for treason. Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally were both found guilty of treason for their broadcasts of propaganda designed specifically, by their own admittance, to demoralize our troops.

No one here is defending Durbin or his comments. He was foolish and should beg forgiveness for the stupid analogy of comparing GITMO to some of the most murderous regimes this planet has ever seen. He should be admonished for in effect decrying the military as point men in Bush’s delusional escapade. He should be vilified for comparing our valiant soldiers to those that murdered 12,000,000 Europeans in concentration camps, those that executed 1.5 million dissidents in the Killing Fields of Cambodia, and those who aided Stalin in his megalomaniacal purge of 20 million of his own people in the Gulags of Siberia.

That said I find the groundswell of opinion that Durbin is guilty of treason to be equally as troubling. Apparently some conservatives wish to greatly expand the real definition of giving aid and comfort to the enemy. They would have treason and treasonous activity include criticism and derision of the government. They would wipe their collective butts with the Constitution in order to wreak vengeance on those who would besmirch the reputations of the President, his administration, and/or the military. Before the conservatives fundamentally alter the Constitution they should evaluate the true ramifications of their actions.

We would no more hand out speeding tickets at the Indianapolis 500 than we would hold people criminally liable for dissent. What is truly frightening about this are the implications. Under the right’s definition of treason nearly any public statement defaming the current president or the military would be considered treasonous activity and thus one could be held on par with Judas Iscariot, Cassius, Brutus, and Ephialtes, some of history’s most notorious traitors. Durbin is a dipshit but Judas he is not.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Shocker...Who'd have thunk it

This from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal agency collected extensive personal
information about airline passengers although Congress told it not to and it said it wouldn't, according to documents obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

A Transportation Security Administration contractor used three data brokers to collect detailed information about U.S. citizens who flew on commercial airlines in June 2004 in order to test a terrorist screening program called Secure Flight, according to documents that will be published in the Federal Register this week.

The TSA had ordered the airlines to turn over data on those passengers, called passenger name records, in November.

The contractor, EagleForce Associates, then combined the passenger name records with commercial data from three contractors that included first, last and middle names, home address and phone number, birthdate, name suffix, second surname, spouse first name, gender, second address, third address, ZIP code and latitude and longitude of address.

EagleForce then produced CD-ROMS containing the information "and provided those CD-ROMS to TSA for use in watch list match testing," the documents said.

According to previous official notices, TSA had said it would not store
commercial data about airline passengers.

The Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits the government from keeping a secret database...

TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield said the program was being developed
with a commitment to privacy, and that it was routine to change the official definition of a system of records during a test phase.

Ladies & gentlemen, your government dollar at work. Never let it be said that the axiom of "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile" doesn't ring true. Yet another fine example of restraint accompanied by a sureptitious wink as the man shakes your hand and reaches around behind you to take liberties with your poop shoot.

The frightening thing is that the American public will hardly notice this story.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

And the winners are...

Since I already profiled the worst organizations in sports it’s only right I comment on the best. These franchises have set the bar that all other teams must reach. All have solid ownership, hire great people, they win, and they are amongst the most celebrated and imitated organizations in sports. Without further adieu…

1. New England Patriots-All you have to know is the Pats have three Vince Lombardi Trophies in four years. Only one other NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys, has ever won three Super Bowls in four years. Team owner Robert Kraft was widely criticized when he hired Bill Bellichick but no one is laughing now. Bellichick is now regarded as the best coach in football and maybe one of the best ever. But that’s another argument for another day. When Kraft took over the Patriots in 1994 the team was last in the league in attendance and revenue…they’ve sold out 114 straight games since. Within three years Kraft & Co. turned around a floundering franchise and had it playing in the Super Bowl in ’96. Over the last five years the Pats have been the best team in football and one of the most profitable. In 2002 Gillette Stadium opened. What’s unique about this is the stadium is the largest privately financed venue in sports. Kraft has created the most sound business model in the NFL.

2. New York Yankees-Love ‘em or hate ‘em no one can argue that the Yankees are the most recognizable team in American sports. No other franchise can lay claim to the historical significance that is the New York Yankees. The most visible team in America’s largest city the Yankees own more professional championships than anyone in North America. Enigmatic owner George Steinbrenner has built a team that has won with almost frightening consistency. World Series champs in ’96, ’98, ’99, and 2000 the Yankees have 26 crowns. When you figure the team started in 1903 that’s a title every four years. Some of the most famous personalities in sports have played for the Yankees: Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Lou Gehrig are but a few. As a long time baseball hater it pains me to say this but Yankee Stadium is a cathedral. No other venue in sports, save Notre Dame Stadium, has the lore and spine tingling aura of the “House that Ruth Built”. If you’re a baseball fan do yourself a favor and attend a game in the hallowed confines of Yankee Stadium and visit Monument Park, buy a Coney Island hot dog, soak in the experience, and bottle it.

3. Las Angeles Lakers-When then owner Jack Kent Cooke sold his sports empire to real estate mogul Jerry Buss the stars aligned foretelling the future of the most successful North American sports franchise of the last 25 years. Since 1980 the Lakers have won eight NBA championships with only two losing seasons and a gaudy .650+ winning percentage. They own the league records for wins by a franchise and are second in championships. Former General Manager Jerry West built one of the most enduring sports dynasties in America. Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaq, and Kobe Bryant were all brought in by West and cemented the mythos of the most financially valuable team in basketball. West not only made brilliant player personal moves he also hired arguably the two best NBA coaches ever. Together Pat Riley and Phil Jackson combined to coach the Lakers to seven NBA titles and twelve finals appearances. The blood feud between Kobe and Shaq has tainted the image of the Lakers but not their legacy.

4. San Antonio Spurs-The forgotten team from central Texas has racked up two NBA titles since ’99 and is well on their way to a third. Not bad for a team in one of the smallest markets on the continent. Originally an ABA franchise the Spurs were a consistently average to good team until Gregg Popovich was hired. In his eight years as head coach Popovich has led the Spurs to the playoffs every year but one. Dell Harris had the Spurs on the edge of greatness but Popovich pushed them over…with a little help from Tim Duncan and David Robinson. Since 1990 the Spurs have had one losing season, and that netted them the lottery pick that would be Duncan.

5. Manchester United-Now some will scoff at the notion of Man U on this list but if you look closely you just might learn a thing or two. According to Forbes Magazine Manchester is the most valuable sports franchise on Earth. With an estimated worth of $1.2 billion Manchester is at least $200 million more valuable than the richest team in North America, the Washington Redskins But overall worth does not paint the whole picture. Since ’93 Man U has won eight English Premier League titles. They’ve also won the UEFA Cup twice in their history. Even though the current ownership situation is in flux Manchester remains the most admired professional sports team in the world. Truly a marketing phenomenon this team’s jerseys and merchandise are coveted in nearly every country with an even timid soccer following. Manchester United is a nearly perfect marriage of marketing, team success, and financial health.

6. Denver Broncos-Pat Bowlen was recently named by ESPN as the best owner in sports. You can’t argue with his results. Bowlen purchased the team in ’85 and immediately put his brand on the Broncos. Five AFC Championships and two Super Bowl titles later the Broncos are still one of the most consistently good/great franchises in sports. In ’95 Mike Shanahan was hired as head coach and has been at or near the top in his profession ever since. John Elway went to three Super Bowls under Dan Reeves but never really had a legit chance to win until Shanahan arrived. Elway had his best statistical and most successful years with Shanny including back-to-back Super Bowls in ’97 & ’98. This team has sold out every home game since 1971 and boasts maybe the most passionate fans in all of sports. In Denver football is a religion and the deities are clad in blue and orange.

7. Detroit Red Wings-If you’re a hockey fan it is impossible to argue with the fact that the Wings have been the best team in the NHL for over a decade. Winners of the Stanley Cup in ’97, ’98, and ’02 the Red Wings have been dominant since the early 90’s. Coach Scotty Bowman directed the team to five division titles before his retirement in ‘02. All tolled since ’90 the Wings have won eight division crowns, four President’s Trophies (awarded for best record), and three Stanley Cups. The list of Red Wings alumni is staggering: Gordie Howe, Terry Sawchuk, Marcel Dione, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Chris Chelios, Domanik Hasek, and Niklas Lidstrom. As a Colorado Avalanche fan I’ve grown to hate the Dead Wings but I will not deny their achievements. What a segue…

8. Colorado Avalanche-The former Quebec Nordiques came to Denver in ’95 and the love affair began immediately. The key to their success has been Pierre Lacroix. The master of the trade deadline acquisition and free agency Lacroix has brought in superstars Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, Rob Blake, Paul Kariya, and Teemu Salanne to join team stalwarts Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Adam Foote. The Avs hold the record for most consecutive division titles in the history of North American sports. Add to that two President’s Trophies and two Stanley Cups and you’ve got one of the most successful sports teams of the last decade. Owner Stan Kroenke bought the Avs, Denver Nuggets, and the Pepsi Center in 2000 and has directed his investments in virtual silence but with a deft touch. Known affectionately as “Silent Stanley”, Kroenke has been one of the most unobtrusive owners in sports, the direct antithesis of Steinbrenner, Jerry Jones, and Al Davis. He’s brought in good people and let them do as they wish. More so than any executive in sports Kroenke knows that he’s not part of the game.

9. Philadelphia Eagles-They’ve played in the NFC Championship four years in a row and just narrowly lost to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX. The Eagles have been a perennial playoff contender for nearly fifteen years and have finished first or second in the NFC East ten times since 1988. They also have some of the most boisterous fans around. Since Jeffrey Lurie bought the team in ’95 the Eagles have been in the playoffs eight times and have over 100 wins. Only the Green Bay Packers have more post season appearances in that time and only four other teams have as many wins.

10. Green Bay Packers-Speaking of the Packers no NFL franchise is as beloved by its fans as the Pack. The only publicly owned team in the four major sports the Packers play in the smallest media market of any other team yet they sell out every game in sun, rain, sleet, hail, snow, ice, etc. Without a doubt the Pack some of the most loyal fans in the world. With nine playoff appearances in ten years, a Super Bowl title, and a stadium that sells out like clockwork the Packers are a model of competitive and financial success. There are season ticket holders in every state and four foreign countries. The estimated wait for season tickets is 30 years. Packers’ fans aren’t going anywhere and if football is a religion in Denver in Wisconsin it’s a birth right.

Honorable mention-Dallas Mavericks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Boston Red Sox, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Atlanta Falcons

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A Public Service

The now infamous Downing Street Memo is getting little to no attention from the media or the American people. This baffles me that they would seemingly give Bush a pass on this. It is vital the details of this memo are ironed out and/or thoroughly investigated. If the memo is a fraud then I'll recant my derision of Jr. and his cronies. If the memo is true this administration is guilty of fraud and corruption that would make Clinton blush.,,2087-1593607_2,00.html

NBA All-Time Draft

We are freaks, sports freaks. Whenever myself & BJ get together the conversation surrounds sports, sports figures, sports controversies, and all things sports. All who have the misfortune of eavesdropping on our little sojourns down sports lane marvel at our fanaticism. We did what we always do, convene yet another all-time draft, this time for basketball. BJ won the coin toss…again. He picked first and he’s got the odd numbered players. Here’s the results…



Michael Jordan
Magic Johnson
Wilt Chamberlain
Karl Malone
Alex English
Kareem Abdul-Jabar
Isiah Thomas
Clyde Drexler
Kevin McHale
Kevin Garnet
LaBron James
Joe Dumars

Holy Hand Grenade

Hakeem Olajuwon
John Stockton
Larry Bird
Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan
Oscar Robertson
James Worthy
Charles Barkley
Reggie Miller
Bill Russell
Scottie Pippen

Thursday, June 09, 2005

They stink on ice

I’m a sports nut. I make no apologies and will remain a fanatic until the day I die. So in my continuing quest to disseminate vast amounts of sports knowledge I bring to you the definitive list of the ten worst franchises in American sports. The losers are…

10. Detroit Lions-These guys have been so bad for so long it almost defies comprehension. Matt Millen has made some decent moves, drafting Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, but the organization as a whole has been mired in mediocrity since the day I was born. But with young players like Teddy Lehman, Boss Baily, and Kevin Jones they potentially have a bright future. The hiring of Steve Mariuci was a good move but the presence of Wayne Fontes in the coaching carousel that is the Lions taints Mooch’s tenure. Fonts had arguably the best running back in the history of football, Barry Sanders, and put him behind a bad offensive line in a run-and-shoot offense. Other luminaries like Bobby Ross, Darryl Rogers, Monte Clark, and Marty Mornhinwig have prowled the sidelines for what was once one of the most storied teams in the NFL. They’ve won one playoff game in forty years.

9. Atlanta Hawks-Attending a home game for this team is like going to a fourth grade band recital. The crowd there is so quiet you can hear the popcorn popping in the concourses. They average fewer than 12,000 per home game and rarely sell out even playoff games. Atlanta has one of the most apathetic fan bases in sports. Even when they had Dominik Wilkins and were competing for playoff spots their fans were still non-supportive to say the least. Far from the most historically inept franchises ever their absentee fans alone are reason enough for inclusion on this list. That and they’ve difiled the NBA hardwood with bad basketball for the better part of the last ten years. Maybe the number two pick in this year’s draft will change their fortune. But then that begs the question…would anyone in Atlanta even care.

8. Chicago Black Hawks/White Sox-For the sake of the economy of commentary the two worst teams in Chicago tie for eighth place on our little count down. A plague on both your houses! The Black Hawks now own the dubious honor of having the longest Stanly Cup drought in the NHL. Team owner Bill Wirtz has been roundly criticized by ‘Hawks fans, the media, and NHL observers for his penny-pinching ways. Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour, and Chris Chelios are just a few of the gifted players that have been traded or jumped ship. The Black Hawks' situation is so bad that their flagship radio station recently dropped their contract. On the other side of town is the equally feeble White Sox. Yes, for those of you who don’t live in the Windy City there are indeed two baseball teams in Chicago. Not that you’d know it from all the press coverage they get. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf refuses to pay for talent, their minor league system is one of the worst in baseball, they rarely sell out their home games, and they haven’t won a World Series since 1917. Other than that they’re just fine. *Snicker*

7. Milwaukee Brewers-But for the presence of Bud Selig and now his daughter the Brew Crew would actually be a less-than-wretched franchise. When the league flirted with contraction a couple years ago Tampa Bay, Montreal, Minnesota, and Kansas City were all rumored to be headed for the hatchet. Lost in all this was the fact that the Brewers have been every bit as unsuccessful as any of the teams mentioned but escaped contraction talk for one reason only…Bud Selig. Imagine the size of the egg on Bud’s face if his own team had been scrapped. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

6. New York Rangers-How much money has this team spent on big name busts? Answer: a bundle. The Rangers have been in the top three in NHL payroll for ten years but haven’t made the playoffs since ’96. Players like Eric Lindros, Pavel Bure, Bobby Holik, and Darius Kasperitis have been relied on to turn around this floundering squad but they’ve only succeeded in underachieving and crippling the payroll. General Manager Glen Sather has alienated nearly everyone in hockey and let the best leader the sport has ever seen, Mark Messier, go to Vancouver. What’s the most reliable sign a player’s career is going to hit the skids? They’ll play for the Rangers.

5. Los Angeles Clippers-The only reason this team isn’t number one with a bullet is that they’ve actually shown a flicker of life the last few years. The perpetual anchor dragging down this team is and always will be owner Donald Sterling. The pariah of the NBA, Sterling has admitted he’s not as much about winning as he is about profit. This team refuses to resign young talent, Elgin Baylor is possibly the worst GM in sports, their drafts have been awful, they have no fan base, and they rarely sell out even in the second largest city in America. The Clippers have been so bad for so long it is down right scary.

4. Cincinnati Bengals-The laughable Bungles more closely resemble a pack of constipated wildebeest than an actual NFL franchise. Owners of the overall number one pick three times in the last eleven years the Bengals have nothing to show for such lofty first rounders. The jury is still out on Carson Palmer but Dan Wilkinson and Ki-Jana Carter are amongst the biggest draft busts of all time. Bengals’ owner Mike Brown, much like the aforementioned Sterling, apparently has an aversion to re-signing his own talent. Not to mention the squandering of one high draft pick after another. Their record since 1990 is 80-166. They can't even win a third of their games. ‘Nuf said.

3. Colorado Rockies-They burst onto the scene when Eric Young clubbed a homerun in the team’s first ever at bat. Three years later they pushed the vaunted Atlanta Braves to six games before losing in the playoffs. It’s been down hill ever since. With only one bona fide star, Todd Helton, the Rockies have been mired in last place since the millennium switch. Gone are the days of 2 to 3 million in yearly attendance, the most widely sold merchandise in baseball, and any semblance of competitiveness. To show you how bad the fortune of this team has turned sure fire Rookie of the Year candidate Clint Barmes, who was hitting .325 with 34 RBI’s and eight home runs, was walking up a flight of stairs with groceries in tow when he fell and broke his collar bone. He’ll be out until at least mid-August.

2. Tampa Bay Devil Rays-The only reason they’re not firmly in the top spot is the fact that they’ve only been stinking it up for seven years. The Rays play in the worst venue in sports. Should you ever get the impulse to visit Tropicana Field just lock yourself in a hermetically sealed Tupperware bowl and breathe your own air for three hours. Then for your added enjoyment watch bad baseball on artificial turf. You’ll beg for death inside of thirty minutes.

1. Arizona Cardinals-Speaking of living hell I truly feel for Cardinals’ fans, all seven of them. This team is the gold standard of futility in all of sports. Owner Bill Bidwell may be the most hated owner in America and without a doubt the most incompetent. The last time they won a championship was 1947. Since 1980 the Cards have had four seasons of .500 or better with one playoff victory and they have AVERAGED 5.5 WINS A YEAR in that span. Over the past 55 years the Cards have posted fifteen winning or .500 seasons. The NFL went to a sixteen game season in '78 and since the switch the Cardinals' winning percentage is .361. The Cards have had top ten draft choices seventeen times in the 25 years. They owned first round picks in '90, '92, and '95 but wasted them on supplemental pick Timm Rosenbach, and trades for Randal Hill and Rob Moore. The defining moment for this franchise came when kicker Bill Gramatica blew out his knee celebrating a first quater field goal in 2001. This type of ineptitude is beyond description.

Honorary mention-Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, New Jersey Nets, Pittsburg Pirates, New York Islanders

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Mock Draft of the ages

Football addiction is a deadly disease. Night sweats, uncontrolable fits of rage, and a distant stare are symptoms that accompany FA. So to appease our conditions myself and BJ did an all-time mock draft to determine football knowledge supremecy. We flipped a coin and Beej got the first pick. We each had 45 roster spots to fill and BJ's picks are odd and I chose the even numbered. Here's how it broke down pick by pick, position by position, and starting lineups. BJ's running a 3-4 D and I'm going with a 4-3. Let me know what y'all think.


BJ's roster

QB-1. Elway
2. Marino
3. M. Vick
RB-1. B. Sanders
2. E. Dickerson
3. W. Payton
4. O. J.
WR-1. Rice
2. R. Moss
3. S. Largent
4. A. Monk
TE-1. Sharpe
2. T. Gonzalez
OL-1. Munoz
2. E. Allen
3. T. Boselli
4. D. Stephenson
5. J. Slater
6. J. Jacoby
7. D. Dierdorf
8. A. Shell
DL-1. D. Jones
2. Randy White
3. C. Haley
4. Too Tall
5. J. Randle
6. D. Hampton
LB-1. R. Lewis
2. Nitschke
3. D. Thomas
4. Singletary
5. A. Tippett
6. W. Marshal
7. J. Hamm
8. J. Lambert
DB-1. Dieon
2. Atwater
3. D. Green
4. Easley
5. Night Train Lane
6. A. Williams
7. B. Bates
8. T. Law

Holy Hand Grenade

QB-1. Montana
2. Favre
3. T. Brady
RB-1. J. Brown
2. E. Campbell
3. E. Smith
4. M. Allen
WR-1. C. Carter
2. M. Harrison
3. T. Brown
4. J. Lofton
TE-1. K. Winslow
2. O. Newsome
OL-1. E. Williams
2. Zimmerman
3. M. Webster
4. J. Hannah
5. R. Grimm
6. O. Pace
7. T. Nalen
8. W. Roaf
DL-1. Reggie White
2. Mean Joe
3. B. Smith
4. H. Long
5. L. Selmon
6. C. Doleman
7. R. Dent
8. A. Page
LB-1. LT
2. D. Butkus
3. H. Nickerson
4. J. Seau
5. C. Banks
6. W. Lanier
DB-1. R. Lott
2. W. Brown
3. R. Woodson
4. M. Haines
5. M. Blount
6. D. Smith
7. D. Woodson
8. D. Cherry

Projected Starters

Head Coach-Lombardi
Off. Coordinator-Shannahan
Def. Coordinator-Dungy
LG-E. Allen

DE-D. Jones
NG-Randy White
DE-C. Haley
LOLB-D. Thomas
MLB-R. Lewis
ROLB-A. Tippett
CB-D. Green

Holy Hand Grenade
Head Coach-Parcells
Off. Coordinator-C. Weis
Def. Coordinator-B. Ryan
E. Campbell
WR-C. Carter
M. Harrison
LG-J. Hannah
RT-E. Williams

DE-Reggie White
DT-Mean Joe
DT-Howie Long
DE-B. Smith
CB-W. Brown
CB-M. Haines
FS-D. Woodson

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A heartfelt tribute

It was the summer after I graduated from high school, the world was at my feet, and between June of ’89 and July of ’90 the nine of us were inseparable. Quite literally our group formed one night in the Mullet Man’s cul-de-sac. I had never met half these guys before and I was sure I’d be treated like an interloper. See, Mullet had gone to a Lutheran prep school with these guys and had grown up around them. Mullet, the enigmatic Lurch, and I had formed a fast friendship in class at Bear Creek High and they were anxious to introduce me to the boys. So we met at Mullet’s house in preparation for a Friday night out. My apprehension was abated when Marky Mark shook my hand, tossed me a beer, and made me feel as if I’d been part of the group all along. It was like slipping on an old pair of comfortable shoes. What happened that night was a true cosmic convergence. It was perfect.

Our trip to South Padre Island for spring break in ’90 was one of those mythical road trips that have become a right of passage for every American male. We all piled into Q-Tip’s green & white ’65 Ford F100 pickup, Leonardo’s ’88 Nissan pickup, and my girl friend’s Jeep Wrangler. We left on Thursday night and got to our hotel around 6 p.m. on Friday. The drive took us through west Texas, which incidentally is like driving through the bowels of Hell, and we were praying Tip’s POS would hold together until we got to South Padre. One memorable night we went to this bar (I think it was Tequila Frogs but don’t quote me) and mainlined tequila (ever after pronounced ta-kill-ya) for a few hours. Afterwards Tip, Mullet Man, Hop-along, Hollywood, and I broke out the golf clubs and played midnight nude golf on the beach. Marky Mark, the Whiner, Lurch, and Leonardo headed back to the hotel to sleep of their bender. Once we got bored with smacking around a golf ball we went exploring and found a golf cart that belonged to one of the hotels. Being the drunk and butt naked dumbasses we were we decided to abscond with our new mode of transportation and drove around for a while. Somehow we found a pier and proceeded to drive the cart into the water. Laughing and flailing we scrambled back to shore, put our now soaking wet clothes back on, and stumbled back to our hotel. Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico is a golf cart with our names on it.

There were those nights spent playing Risk and shooting the s**t until the wee hours of the morning. Poker night in Leonardo’s garage was always something we looked forward to. We’d get our paychecks on a Friday afternoon, cash them, and assemble at Leo’s and play poker until dawn. Lurch showed up to vainly try to recoup past losses, Mullet Man loved the pizza we got from Beau Jo’s, and Tip always started the peanut war. Lurch threw parties that were legendary. These were the type of party where you sleep where you fall and his back yard always looked like the Jonestown Massacre. Hollywood would host impromptu pool tournaments that usually degenerated into a giant smack talking festival. Mullet’s mom always cooked the bomb ass dinner for us and the look on his father’s face was priceless as the nine of us ate him out of house & home. He was always found later in front of the TV muttering something about how we all had hollow legs to be able to eat that much that quickly.

Marky Mark and Q-Tip grew up to become fire fighters and will always have my undying respect. Marky Mark has three daughters while Tip’s first kid was born about a year and a half ago. Mullet Man is still a serial monogamist and went into the real estate business with his dad. Funny, I always thought he hated the man. Lurch is now pulling down a mid six-figure salary at Charles Schwab. Leo lives in Fort Collins and works for Hewlett-Packard. The Whiner is an investment consultant and does some estate planning. Hop-along does part-time modeling, or so he says, and God only knows what else. Hollywood is married, has a kid, and works for Invesco.

My most vivid memory of these guys was July 2, 1990. We had all gathered at Mullet Man’s for a barbecue and beer. It was your average low scale get together with us and the women folk. Nothing significant happened…other than it was our last night together.

The next night, July 3, I was driving to Lake Granby to meet up with the boys for a night at some cabin and 4th of July golf tournament the next day. It was raining cats & dogs and visibility was crap. I rounded this bend on Berthoud Pass and came up on a gas tanker that was backing across the road with no running lights on or signal flairs. I had no time to stop and my Honda Civic T-boned the tool box underneath the tank. I broke my neck and have been in a wheel chair ever since. I was nineteen.

I haven’t seen Mullet, Leonardo, Hop-along, or the Whiner since Marky Mark’s wedding in ’91. Q-tip and I try to go to at least one Bronco game a year and I saw Hollywood about five years ago. I ran into Lurch at our ten year high school reunion.

I’m not trying to preach about friendship or to teach some kind of all encompassing universal truth. This also isn’t meant to be some cheap, not-so-subtle tug at the heart strings or a heavy-handed plea for sympathy. This post is simply a tribute in a very public forum to youth and eight old friends. Gentlemen, wherever you are let me say thank you and take care.

Friday, May 27, 2005


Let us take a trip in the Way Back machine. The year is 1913. Crackerjack puts its first prize in their candy boxes, the temperature in Death Valley hits 134 degrees which is still the hottest recorded mark in American history, Ford Motor Company introduces its first assembly line, construction on the Panama Canal wraps up, and Thomas Woodrow Wilson is sworn in as President. Also in 1913, Rosa Parks, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Hoffa, Gerald Ford, Jesse Owens, Burt Lancaster, and J.P. Morgan all draw their first breaths while Albert Einstein worked on the theory of general relativity. This was also a dark year for the country and especially the Constitution.

In barely a two month span both the Sixteenth Amendment and the Seventeenth Amendment were ratified. The 16th ushered in the era of a national income tax and the 17th took away a birthright of the individual states. The really stunning part is the clandestine maneuvering that took place to ram these draconian measures through. These two amendments will be forever linked in annals of American history and as with all things political nothing is as it seems.

Originally proposed in 1909 the national income tax was dead on the vine. The 16th Am. languished in the state legislatures with little chance for ratification. Then the federal brokers arranged an unwritten back-room deal that would assure passage of a federal income tax. The power mongers in Washington knew that Amendment XVI would exponentially increase their supremacy and influence over the sovereign states and they were desperate to push it through. Likewise, the states were equally eager to rid themselves of the hassle of having to appoint their own senators. Thus a deal was struck. The states agreed to ratify the income tax and the feds vowed to back Am. XVII. There is nothing in writing to support this conspiracy theory but the timing was dubious at best. Amendment XVI was ratified on February 3, 1913 with Amendment XVII receiving the stamp of approval on April 8 of the same year. That’s a difference of 64 days. What a coincidence. And as we all know there are no coincidences in the world of American politics.

So, in a ravenous power grab the federal government dramatically increased its power to undreamed of levels while the states surrendered what was at one time their duty imposed by the original framers of the Constitution and endowed by our Creator. In one fell swoop the intent of a government that operates from the bottom up was turned on eats ear. No longer could the states dictate to the feds because the last vestige of state influence over federal power was handed over on a silver platter. And the US Congress took the ball and ran with it all the way to the bank.

To put it into perspective the federal budget in 1900 was $550 million. In 2004 the budget was $2.294 TRILLION, and when you do the math that’s an average yearly increase of 40%. Between 1917 and ’18 the federal coffers grew from just under one billion to over four, a boost of 400%. In 2003 federal spending topped $20,000 per household for the first time since WWII. That same year the feds taxed $16,780 per household, a deficit $3,520. Under George Bush Jr. we’ve seen the largest proportional increase in spending since Lyndon Johnson. With Ronald Reagan at the helm the budget deficit quadrupled. Lyndon Johnson spent money like a drunken sailor on shore leave and Jimmy Carter pumped up the deficit to $990 billion. The 16th Am. created a rabid monster that has yet to be tamed.

The 17th Am. was no less insidious. Because of overt laziness and political skittishness the states abdicated their ability to influence federal legislative policy. The Senate was meant to be an arm of the state legislatures, not a tool of the people, that’s what the House of representatives is for. Of the appointment of senators by the states Alexander Hamilton said this, “Among the various modes which might have been devised for constituting this branch of the government, that which has been proposed by the convention is probably the most congenial with the public opinion. It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems.” The question is not which method is the most accurate reflection of the will of the states but which method affords the states their greatest opportunity to protect their sovereignty. To acquiesce to a central government the states’ rights of self determination is to create a system where the government rules and legislates from the top down. The 17th Am. gave the feds absolute power over the states and as the old axiom says, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, not to mention the basic principle of s**t ALWAYS flows down hill.

As a professed registered Democrat I realize on a prima facea level that my condemnation of the two Constitutional amendments that have done more to expand the federal government than all other amendments combined seems disingenuous but hear me out on this. But for the 16th we’d have no Social Security, welfare, Medicaid or Medicare. But for the 17th we’d have no Senate blood bath over judicial nominees or Borking, no NAFTA, or no Kyoto. I have supported many of these policies in the past but no longer can I turn a blind to the sinister influence of such a mad governmental expansion. No longer can I ignore the disastrous affects of the deterioration of state sovereignty. December 7, 1941 was a day that will live in infamy but 1913 is a year that inexorably altered the foundations of our republic and therefore scarred the very fabric of our society. 1913 was a dark year indeed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

17th Amendment: An afternoon conversation

I was breaking bread with a dear friend of mine, hereafter known as Forest, on Friday over a couple bland burritos. He’s a staunch conservative and a huge fan of George Bush Jr. and I’m a registered Democrat who views the current president as a harbinger of Armageddon so, naturally, our political discussions are spirited to say the least. We were bandying about the current judicial filibuster flap and the now infamous Newsweek brain fart. Eventually our talk turned to my theory that the 17th Amendment should be abolished and boy did the fur start to fly. It is my recent contention, call it an epiphany, that choosing U.S. Senators by popular vote is contradictory to the original intent of the Constitution. Article I states; “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” The 17th Am. unequivocally obliterates this provision and gives the power to the people to choose the members of the Senate.

As he is apt to do Forest brought up a couple of interesting points to refute my contention. First, he said that returning the senatorial selection method to its original framework, i.e. state legislatures select senators, political cronyism and nepotism would hold sway over the process. Second, Forest feels that this would add yet another layer of cumbersome bureaucracy to an already sluggish governmental instrument. Forest went as far to say that my theory is symptomatic of my supposed allegiance to expanded government. Third, he says that the current electoral process is as accurate a reflection of the legislative will of the states as the original Article I stipulation was.

Forest always keeps me on my toes but he’s utterly wrong on this one.

The Federalist Paper No. 62 says, “The qualifications proposed for senators, as distinguished from those of representatives, consist in a more advanced age and a longer period of citizenship. A senator must be thirty years of age at least; as a representative must be twenty-five. And the former must have been a citizen nine years; as seven years are required for the latter. The propriety of these distinctions is explained by the nature of the senatorial trust, which, requiring greater extent of information and stability of character, requires at the same time that the senator should have reached a period of life most likely to supply these advantages; and which, participating immediately in transactions with foreign nations, ought to be exercised by none who are not thoroughly weaned from the prepossessions and habits incident to foreign birth and education.” This is a clear manifestation by two of the Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, that Senators need to be more mature and qualified because of the nature of their unique responsibilities. The only way to ensure this is letting the state legislatures appoint Senators, cronyism and nepotism be damned. ‘Tis better to err on the side of a quid pro quo arrangement than to let a glorified beauty contest that is a general election choose members of the most powerful and influential legislative body in the land. General elections have degenerated into a preening contest where one-upmanship carries the day. Eliminate the frenzied election, replace it with an appointment mechanism and you create a system where candidates have to run on their qualifications and not on whether their hair is styled correctly or the cut of the navy-blue suit is flattering or dignified.

Admittedly, as seen by the bloodbath in the Senate over judicial appointments, the process for appointing anyone to a position higher than little league coach can be a bit tedious. It stands to reason that a state legislature would grind to a halt should they be entrusted with appointing members of the Senate. The very first session of Congress saw the state of New York without a senator because of a gird-locked state legislature. Thus was born the 17th Amendment, a little modification that was supposed to solve the problem of endless debate on the state level. Seems that the states no longer wished to be burdened with the arduous task they had been entrusted with. But we’ve exchanged one bureaucratic nightmare for another. Infinitely more costly, general elections also ensure that senators can literally ignore their constituency for four years and campaign for the last two years of their tenure. General elections and the onerous campaigns that are a little ancillary effect are expensive, mind numbing, and quite frankly boring. A state level dog fight would be far more entertaining than watching still-born stuffed shirts pontificate about issues they’ll do nothing about four 2/3 of their term anyway. Give me the state feud and you can have your multi-million dollar election. If anything abolishing the 17th would save millions of tax payers' dollars. How does this increase the size of government? Tell me, I'm dying to know.

The most important and intriguing question is which scheme is a more accurate reflection of the states’ will. However, there is an even more fundamental threshold issue that must be addressed; should the Senate be a vassal of the states or of the people. Clearly Article I intended for the Senate to be a voice for the individual states. Therein lays the rub. The framers of the Constitution never intended for the Senate to be in the hands of the people. That’s what the House of Representatives is for. Forest’s third point appears to be moot, especially when you apply another proviso to the equation. Article V stated, “No State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.” Echoing this sentiment, James Madison wrote in Federalist Paper #43, “The prohibition against the adoption of any amendment whereby a state is deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate without its consent involves two things: first, that if the state chooses to consent, it may be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate; and, second, that it may not, by any amendment, be deprived of its power to give or refuse its consent.” Simply put, any state that does not wish to acquiesce to Am. XVII doesn’t have to. This is one of the most stunning bits of political trickery in American history.

The more research I do the more convinced I become that the 17th Amendment has done irreparable damage to this country. This insidious concoction of legal slight of hand has led to the rampant partisanship that stonewalls nearly all meaningful change. The states have lost their voice in Congress due in no small part to laziness and apathy. Contrary to original intent the states have literally no say in the process that fundamentally and profoundly affects their sovereignty and we have Amendment XVII to thank for that.