Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 204

On Politics
This is my response to politicians who claim to be public servants. Public service isn’t about playing games, thus those who play are not public servants.

The IRS now desires to limit the connection between political activity and tax-exempt status. Although I support curbs, I’m amazed that the IRS deemed these groups as one’s “to promote the social welfare.” What a bunch of crap!

Even though they set the bar low, cheers to Sen. Murray (D-OR) and Rep. Ryan (R-WS) on getting something done the old-fashioned way. Cheers also to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for speaking out against the conservation Political Action Groups – but jeers to the predictable cranks.

President Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro didn’t bother me. Besides, President Obama delivered a zinger in his speech – so why not kill them with kindness?

The Onion provides a Pro-and-Con list regarding legalization of marijuana.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion
Delirious rover hallucinates water on Mars
Employee slowly realizes boss attempting to have normal conversation with her
Biologist completes 5-minute study of pathetic organism in mirror
Terrifying man selling dead trees out of middle school parking lot
Slow-witted conspiracy theorist convinced government behind NASA
Pope Francis canonizes single turkey in annual Vatican tradition – Article – (I know it’s late, but I like it)

Interesting Reads
Physics, cosmology, and philosophy
Columnist Fareed Zakaria on education in the USA
Bitcoins
Causes of WW I
The Law of Urination
Top 5 brawls of American politics
Kansas City Lightning (Book review about jazz great Charlie Parker)

On Potpourri
Hudson Howl offered a trade of Rod Ford for Sarah Palin. I accepted because that is a no-brainer.

The idea of making cell phone calls available on flights must be based on a way for the airlines to make money. I hate the idea, thus hope for a high fee and the airlines right to disconnect the call if the caller is bothering others.

Courtesy of The Onion Store, here is another potential holiday gift for the hard-to-buy person with a twisted sense of humor.

Because I didn’t post last Friday and knowing that some were counting on my gift ideas, here’s a second one – your very own creative cursing cards!

For those who dare, here’s The Onion’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide.

Dancing with the Stars has been a good season. I always enjoy seeing non-dancers progress, but I don’t like seeing the audience vote causing better dancers to leave.

Pope Francis is a good choice for Time’s Person of the Year – but Miley Cyrus wasn’t worthy as a finalist.

Time: The Musical continues next week featuring Seasons, which means song titles with season(s) or one of the seasons in the title – but NOT in the form of a compound word. BTW – I love listening to all the songs! FYI: Bad news – The final act will be in January. Good news – A new musical begins!

Enjoy this version of Jingle Bells from President Obama.

Here are your weekend celebrations (sadly, not much going on)

  • (Fri) Cocoa Day, Pick a Pathologist Pal Day (here’s one who may recognize)
  • (Sat) Day of the Horse, Monkey Day, Shareware Day, Bouillabaisse Day, Halcyon Days begin
  • (Sun) Cat Herders Day, DNA Day, Lemon Cupcake Day, Zamenhof Day

Many thanks for all the kind words and support regarding the recent passing of my mother-in-law.

Because prep time has been short, I’m suspending Saturday Morning Cartoons until after the first of the year. However, I will have a seasonal treat tomorrow.

For Cincinnati, December has been abnormally cold and we’ve already received twice than normal amount of snow. Besides, the traditionally two coldest months are yet to come. I’m sending you into the weekend with the song that Lynn submitted in the latest Time: The Musical. In addition, it’s has outstanding images!

Enjoy Wintertime by the Steve Miller Band. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Parties and the Partisans

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.” — George Washington, September 19, 1796, Farewell Address

As we watch the current uproar regarding the event of Benghazi, sadly and shamefully, this is the way Washington works. Regardless who occupies the White House, regardless who controls Congress, our elected officials are primarily about spin – spin to protect an ideology, advancing a political point of view, and setting the course for the next election.  With spin favoring manipulating facts, or even worse, lying, truth and integrity are two of the casualties. With many, if not the majority, of Americans aligning themselves with a preferential political party and relying on biased perspectives, who are the real winners and losers?

The recent IRS news is another example. Congress is jumping into the fray with various committee hearings, which are actually prime opportunities for predictable political grandstanding. Besides taking advantage of diversions to avoid critical issues, the committees probably will not address this key question: Do political groups fit the definition for 501-C4 tax exemption as an organization organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.

The answer: Absolutely, because they act in the welfare of most (if not every) elected official in Washington!

FYI: I wrote the above before reading these two good reads: a column by Ruth Marcus and this commentary from Roll Call.

On Auditing Capitol Hill

Whether about confirmations or a certain issue, Congressional hearings provide a chance for our lawmakers to exhibit the proverbial double standard. As committee members grill those in front of them with statements as “Just answer the question” or “I want to know”, these are the same people who forget the way they too do the dance-around-the-question 2-step when someone asks them specific questions, .

Since I’ve had enough, and in the spirit of what is good for the goose is also good for the gander, let’s set all 535 members on Capitol Hill on the witness stand … the witness stand to the public. I want the IRS to audit each of them … now! Pelosi, Boehner, Reid, McConnell, and all their lieutenants … You first … then the members of the Ethics Committee, and continuing all the way down to the newly-elected representative.

Tax issues got the best of Tom Daschle and Nancy Gillefer; meanwhile, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner escaped the hot seat – well, at least temporarily. Why should it stop with nominees? Should we simply trust them because they have been selected to be our public servants?

Since gifts, perks, honorariums, expenses, travel, and other dollars pass through these people all the time, they have ample opportunity for both mistakes and intentional deceptions. So why not the audit? Those with troubles will pay the IRS with penalties AND resign their position.

Auditing the high-and-mighty in the hallowed halls will help all of us identify those with the highest integrity. We deserve it! Oops I forgot … even with the public’s low approval rating of Congress, the majority of voters proclaim that those representing them are fine, thus it’s everyone else.