Transparency and Accountability

It’s a rare thing to find a politician who is actually trustworthy and fights for transparency and accountability from government. Barack Obama is not doing that. Regrettably, he has already gone back on some important promises, some of which I’ll save for discussion at a later time. Needless to say, it’s the disease that plagues the genre that is politics.

One major exception to that rule is Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). I didn’t support Paul’s candidacy for President for reasons that I won’t get into here but, since then, I’ve found him to be one of perhaps only a handful of politicians from either party that are worthy, in my opinion, of respect and trust. What first caught my eye from Paul is his steadfast support of private property rights, something that I believe strongly in. He is also a watchdog as it pertains to the strong need for our government to be transparent and accountable.

Paul has apparently obtained 245 co-sponsors to a bill that would require a full-fledged audit of the Federal Reserve. Previous attempts have not yielded much results for the Texas congressman.

In the past, I never got much support, but I think it’s the financial crisis obviously that’s drawing so much attention to it, and people want to know more about the Federal Reserve.

The bill calls for the comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed and report the findings to Congress. Currently, the GAO’s ability to perform this kind of audit is severely restricted. House Republican leader John Boehner wrote on his blog:

The Federal Reserve Transparency Act would remove all of these restrictions, and allow GAO to get real answers from the Federal Reserve to protect American taxpayers.

The unfortunate thing is that Paul’s bill is currently languishing in the House Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by Barney Frank (D-Mass). The bill has been there now since February, collecting additional sponsors. Paul has said that Frank has promised him the bill will be dealt with and is willing to give it a hearing. Paul believes that it has enough support to pass the House.

Paul’s ultimate goal and one which I support is to abolish the Federal Reserve altogether.

I blame almost everything on the Fed because they create the bubbles, they create the credit.

Paul argues that the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional and that it has no legal authority to operate the monetary system.


The Ultimate Redneck Hunting Trophy

Just when you thought you’d heard all the redneck jokes possible, something pops up in real life that causes you to make that Tim Allen grunting noise.

Apparently, there is a problem in Tennessee with hunters stalking and shooting game from moving vehicles because the practice is prohibited. Makes sense, doesn’t it? First off, a hunter should be clear of the roadway before pulling the trigger, right? Then, it just adds to the danger if you’re actually still in the vehicle when you squeeze off a shot or two. Thirdly, you just might accidentally step on that pesky gas peddle and, if you’ve happened to mistakenly leave the vehicle running whilst the gears are in drive, the result could be quite messy, especially if you miss the varmint.

However, there’s one small caveat to this prohibition in Tennessee…It’s apparently allowable if you happen to be shooting at a whale. Yep, if you happen to pull up alongside one of those nasty critters at the vast amount of oceanside beach in Tennessee, help yourself to all the blubber you can get as long as you’re a crack shot.

My question is, if you can shoot a whale in Tennessee, what happens if you run over one? Will they let you keep it if it’s roadkill instead of freshly killed via gunshot?

Dorky Product Nominee No. 2, the Wearable Towel

Back in December, I brought you the first incarnation of “Dorky Product Nominee”. The initial nominee was “The Snuggie“, a product sure to get a snicker out of friends and family, if not a butt-kicking from a former best friend.

Now we bring you “The Wearable Towel“…

When you’re on an outing to the beach, why bother carrying a heavy, bothersome towel when you can just express your laziness by wearing one? With “The Wearable Towel”, you don’t have to carry it, sling it over your shoulder, or bother with complicated, time-consuming projects like tying one around your waist.

Have you ever gotten to the beach only to realize that you forgot your swimsuit? With “The Wearable Towel”, you can simply wear it to the beach and, when you notice that you have no swimsuit, just jump right on in the water. Then when you get out…Voila! You already have a towel with you…Wait…Ummm…Scratch that.

Seriously, like “The Snuggie”, this thing is sure to turn even the coolest of dudes and dudettes into major dorks. It looks like something designed by a frat guy who just can’t get enough of toga parties. You might as well just suit up in a pair of cloth shorts and a fat guy’s t-shirt and stamp “pool nerd” on your forehead. If that’s what you’re looking for, “The Wearable Towel” is sure to not disappoint.

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

In the 7th or 8th grade, I remember having a classmate who was a huge Michael Jackson fan. I was at the time as well but it was also beginning to be fashionable to make fun of the guy. It was the mid 80s and Jackson’s “Thriller” album was still near the height of its popularity despite the fact that it was released in 1982. But by this time, lots of rumors of strange goings on had come out about the gloved one and jokes abounded. I took part in them even though I was fascinated with his music and image. Anyway, this classmate was always defending Jackson and I remember him several times telling me that “He could kick YOUR ass!” He was probably right. I was a pushover at the time. Regardless, those kinds of memories are some of the first things I think about when I hear Jackson’s name.

“Thriller” was one of the first albums I owned after the cassette tape first became so popular and I wore the thing out. Like most of the other albums I owned, the printing on the case got worn off, the sound quality became really poor and it would hardly play at all. I could listen to that thing from beginning to end and remember liking almost every song on it. I think I ended up buying another copy of it, which didn’t happen with any of the rest of my collection at the time. I haven’t heard that album in probably more than 20 years now but I still remember how I felt while I listened to it back then.

“Thriller” was followed up by “Bad”, which was another huge hit for Jackson. Compared to “Thriller”, though, it was a bit of a letdown for me but I was still a big fan and made sure to catch all the new videos, watch the charts, interviews, etc. I even got a huge kick out of Weird Al Yankovic’s take on Jackson’s video for “Bad”, called “Fat”. That was good stuff. For some reason, Weird Al always seemed to associate food when he spoofed a Jackson tune.

Then, of course, things really got strange in the early to mid 90s. Rumors about Jackson’s personal life were widespread by then and he had even been sued for allegedly molesting a young boy. He settled out of court but his career was never really the same. Yes, he could still count on his new albums going platinum but it just wasn’t the same anymore. His appearance radically changed, to the point that, in the 2000s, he began to look more like an alien lifeform than a person.

It’s all really rather tragic, in my opinion. Despite the rather serious and possibly true allegations about his involvement with children, he always seemed to be a rather tortured soul. The guy probably never had a fighting chance at anything resembling a normal life and it’s been fairly well documented that his childhood, what little there was of it, was not a happy one.

Then came yesterday’s news of his passing. Now that I think of it, it’s really not that huge of a shock, though I was a bit surprised when I heard the news last night. I wonder if the guy ever really trusted anyone, had a real friend, or was able to experience true love? It reminds me a lot of the death of Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the band Queen, who died of AIDS. Freddie said before his passing that he often felt that he never had a real friend. What a sad existence.

When someone passes away that I know had a hard life or lived some kind of bizarre existence, I often think of the song “Mother Love” by Queen, which I’ve blogged about before. I’ve been blessed by experiencing the ultimate real love in Jesus Christ, real love in my relationship with my wife, and real love with my daughter. It saddens me when others go through life without experiencing that.

Disappearing Act?

Let me just say that, despite the train wreck that was George Bush’s last four years in office, I’m still thankful beyond belief that John Kerry was not elected in 2004. Liberals like to make fun of Sarah Palin for supposedly being dumber than a box of rocks but, really, if that’s true, is John Kerry really that much better?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last two days, you’ve heard about the whole disappearing routine of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. On Tuesday, it was being reported that he was missing but that it was thought he was hiking in the mountains. Then yesterday, it came out that he had flown to Argentina to hook up with his girlfriend. The problem is that Sanford is married. I know, I know…a huge shock, right?

Anyway, enter the scene Sen. John Kerry, liberal politician and former Democratic candidate for President from Massachusetts. You know, the guy who claims those evil Republicans stole the election in Ohio in 2004, costing him the Presidency. Upon hearing of Gov. Sanford’s disappearance, Kerry had this little nugget:

“Too bad,’’ Kerry said, “if a governor had to go missing it couldn’t have been the governor of Alaska. You know, Sarah Palin.’’

You know, I’m no longer a huge supporter of Sarah Palin but, come on. Some of the libs are spending so much energy and spewing so much venom that you have to wonder what they’re really afraid of. They laugh at Palin, joke about her supposed lack of intelligence, etc. However, one has to begin to wonder if there isn’t some deep-seated fear of her that they just keep using such vitriol. If she’s not a threat to them, then why even waste time acknowledging her? Yet they continue to insert foot in mouth.

I’ve got news for you Mr. Kerry…I don’t think Sarah Palin’s going anywhere anytime soon. Get used to it.

Look at Me, Please!!!!

Has anyone else noticed that it’s now become fashionable to admit you were wrong, or admit to some misdeed, indiscretion, etc? As far as public figures go, it almost seems like some kind of media-enhanced perp walk. Joe Politician gets caught with his proverbial pants around his ankles and immediately the wheels of positive spin begin to turn. I imagine a PR firm is hired and a consultant is brought in to coach his every word, mannerism, and movement. This is especially the case if the offending party is a Republican or conservative who has or is perceived to have been preaching “family values”. In that case, I really have no sympathy for the perpetrator.

It’s gotten to the point that I have trouble knowing whether Joe P. is truly apologetic and repentant or just embarrassed at having been caught. You know how it is when you catch your child with their hand in the cookie jar. I know, overused expression there but appropriate nonetheless. Anyway, the child comes up with every excuse imaginable why they had their hand in the cookie jar. Finally, they admit to their wrong and put on an act, at least that’s what the cynical side of me thinks and it’s no different with Joe P. The only problem is that Joe P. banks on the public having a short memory and, unfortunately, I believe he’s pretty much right on that. I think we’re interested more in the perp walk and about the juicy details of what was going on than discerning whether or not the guy was actually apologetic or not.

For me, I guess it all started with the whole Jimmy Swaggart scandal that started back in the 80s. In 1986, Swaggart exposed fellow minister Marvin Gorman for his infidelities. The following year, Swaggart again outed another fellow minister, televangelist Jim Bakker, calling him “a cancer in the body of Christ”. Of course, as the story goes, Swaggart was eventually found out for the charlatan he was in 1988. What was good for the goose was apparently also really, really good for the gander, considering he was caught again in 1991.

Anyway, my point is that I find it extremely difficult to trust these people that come out publicly, admitting their wrongs and asking forgiveness. I realize it’s not my place to condemn them. That’s God’s role in all this. He’s the only one that can truly judge the intents of the hearts of men. I’d like to close with the lyrics to a song that often comes to mind when this kind of thing is in the news, “It Could’ve Been Me” by Christian artist Phil Keaggy.

I heard the news today
That another soldier tumbled
A fragile warrior slipped and fell from grace
The vultures swooped to tear his heart
And pin him to the ground
And from the shadows someone took his place.

Today we talk amongst ourselves
We never bought his words
We say we’ve seen the madness in his eyes
Tomorrow he’s forgotten as
We’ve scrubbed him from our hearts
And as he bleeds we slowly turn our eyes

But it could’ve been me
I could’ve been the one to lose my grip and fall
It could’ve been me
The one who’s always standing tall
For unless you hold me tightly, Lord
And I can hold on, too
Then tomorrow in the news
It could be me, it could be me

And in our hearts we fear the ones
Whose lives are like our own
Whose shadows dance like
Demons in our minds
We think to push them far away
We exercise our souls
We make them play the tune for all mankind

Today we talk amongst ourselves
We never bought their words
We say we’ve seen the madness in their eyes
Tomorrow they’re forgotten as
We’ve scrubbed them from our hearts
And as they bleed we slowly turn our eyes

But it could’ve been me
I could’ve been the one to lose my grip and fall
It could’ve been me
The one who’s always standing tall
For unless you hold me tightly, Lord
And I can hold on too
Then tomorrow in the news
It could be me, it could be me

But I believe there is a place
Where we can run and hide
When we know that we can’t stand
For one more day
And I believe You’re waiting, Lord
To hold me very close
For You know without Your love I’d lose my way

But it could’ve been me
I could’ve been the one to lose my grip and fall
It could’ve been me
The one who’s always standing tall
For unless you hold me tightly, Lord
And I can hold on too
Then tomorrow in the news
It could be me, it could be me

Ma'am or Senator???

Most of you may have already heard about this story and, to tell the truth, it’s not really all that important, at least not to the point that literally thousands of blogs have commented on it. Well, I guess you might as well count mine among those thousands now. Truthfully, I hesitated to post on this at all but my take is probably a little different from most of my fellow conservatives, so I figured “What the heck?”

At a hearing on Capital Hill on Tuesday, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) had an unusual request of Army Corps of Engineers division leader, Brigadier General Michael Walsh. During a somewhat heated exchange, Boxer questioned Walsh on why the levees in New Orleans are still unrepaired after nearly four years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. After his response, she then asked that he refer to her as Senator rather than “ma’am” (see video).

The argument in the blogosphere has been over who owes who respect. My question is: Don’t they BOTH owe each other respect? Does anyone really think Gen. Walsh intentionally disrespected Sen. Boxer? And I also don’t think it’s inappropriate of Boxer to ask Gen. Walsh to refer to her as “Senator”, either. After all, regardless of what I think of her as a Senator, she certainly has earned the right to be called by that title.

The only thing I can fault either one for is that Boxer probably should’ve just let it slide. It probably wasn’t worth interrupting the flow of the hearing to comment on. Other than that, she has every right to ask to be referred to by her title. It’s not that big a deal.

The bigger question is, why are we wasting time on this trivial matter and other things like it in the media, blogosphere, etc? We’ve got huge problems in this country, fiscal and moral, domestic and international. Those are the things we should be spending our time worrying about instead of pontificating on who snubbed who or who deserves what. Of course, I guess I have to find myself guilty for even bringing it up here on my blog in the first place.

Lastly…Does the fact that I referred to Boxer by her last name and not her title now make me a target also?