The Office of Tax Propaganda.
Smile and bend over:
There was a third-world quality about my flight from Memphis to Kansas City that I won’t bore you with. Travel used to be fun. Now it’s a reality TV show, a personal challenge. Many times I end up in the modern version of a rural farm town, the collection of franchises huddling around an interstate highway interchange. The old market town is now a collection of big boxes seeded by a regional mall. Only then do houses spring up, and maybe a school or two.
The landfill I was visiting started out in the middle of nowhere, outside of Shawnee, Kansas and overlooking the Kansas River. Then came a sewage plant. Wow! Easy hookups and cheap land. Houses sprang up like Las Vegas. Get that landfill out of there. The owner must have really spread around some contributions. The fill has another 25+ years of life at 5,000+ tons of garbage a day (400 truckloads). It’s generating about 5 million cubic feet of methane gas (and CO2) a day now. That’s a nice little gas well.
I did learn, on the trip from DFW to Las Vegas, that the new generation of semiconductor plants will cost $5 billion each. One can’t afford to make a mistake with those dues. In Memphis, I learned that oak trees have shallow roots, there are special chairs for sitting shiva, and Conservative minyans can include women. I arrived home Tuesday night. I left for Burbank Wednesday morning. I parked in the same airport space. That’s flying too much. Wednesday morning, as I was inching through security, a TSA White Shirt yelled, “Who lost some money?” No one replied. Is that lying to a federal employee? A felony? Minimum sentence?
Guns. Fire. Bondage. And some iffy stuff. – Penn & Teller:
California is getting to be too goofy for words, an unreal reality program. Everyone is talking about – Colby Bryant, the big cheese. Was he just a first-time adulterer? Is it racial? The boy jumped to the NBA out of high school. He was probably 12 (and six feet) when someone in authority last told him “no”. At least he treats women better than OJ (or Jim Brown or James Brown). And better than the rock star is now under arrest for beating his actress girlfriend to death. I’d say there is a gender problem. I’d say it was a social problem.
Then there is that other California whoopee, the recall of Gray Davis. Arnie, the Nazi’s son, is the clear favorite, a Clinton Republican. The overrated actor announced on overrated Jay Leno’s overrated talk show. How’s he going to fix a $38 billion deficit without raising taxes and no real experience? As the Chicago Tribune observed, “California doesn’t need the Terminator – it needs Superman.” Why would anyone want to be governor of California now? There are 155 masochists actually running as of last night. “If the support is there, I am willing to go the distance. If not, I will fade into the sunset,” said Larry Flynt. Gray Davis looks rested and tanned on various television shows. He’s probably thinking that a recall is easier to win than the state budget problem. This is a third world mess in one of the largest economies of the first world. The Las Vegas Review Journal knows a story when one comes by. They asked Robert Goulet, Penn Gilette, and Elaine Wynn what they thought about California gubernatorial politics. Goulet was a bit confused, but was quoted using the word “baby”. Gilette, a Libertarian, was knowledgeable and quite amused by the whole situation. Wynn’s a neighbor in Sun Valley. One doesn’t speak badly about one’s neighbors. I, for one muse, hope the federal courts (the Cal. Supreme Court won’t touch it) move the election to the spring. Extend the silly season. Recall the entire useless legislature. Put up fences to keep Californians from moving to Nevada. In the late 1990’s, 2.2 million people left California. Only 1.5 million moved in. Si.
Homosexuality seems to have blasted out of the closet. The Anglicans and Episcopalians and Church of Englanders are all schisming about gay marriages and gays in the priesthood and gay caballeros. Republicans want a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages. In the meantime, gay is popping out all over our television sets. “Gay Hollywood.” “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (Jay Leno for one). “Kindergarten Cop.” Revelations of drag queens. “Lorraine and Shirley.” Seems a bit confusing. Burning Man is in two weeks. That’s confusing.
The Winds of War:
Our guys are still getting bumped off in Iraq. There is fuel (lack thereof) rioting in Basra. The Pentagon has tried to tell the international community that we, the occupying power, are not responsible for protecting foreign embassies. It turns out that engineering experts from the Defense Intelligence Agency thought the two trailers found in Iraq were for making hydrogen for weather balloons. As this did not adhere to their boss’s line, they were ignored. So goeth the only possible smoking gun (smoking pot?). The retired diplomat who investigated the Iraq-Niger uranium connection is miffed. Some shadowy administration official outed his wife, a CIA covert operative. It was patriot Robert Novak that threatened national security. Is that legal? We’ve sent FBI agents to Iraq to discover who bombed the Jordanian embassy. No anthrax was found in the Maryland pond they drained in June so they need something else to do. The fewer TSA inspectors will now be inspecting electronic gadgets so as to make long airport lines even longer. It’s for your own safety. It’s for American security. It’s for a larger federal deficit.
The ABA is attacking Bush’s anti-terror (anti-Constitution) legal policies. Congress continues to hide. Rev. Ashcroft continues his attack, now wanting to be alerted whenever a federal judge prison terms shorter than federal guidelines. At the same time Justice Kennedy is attacking mandatory minimum prison terms and those very guidelines. Aren’t judges supposed to use judgment? A report prepared for Democrat Henry Waxman accuses the Republican administration of misusing science data. We’re a balanced society. The radical right balances the radical left. DOE wants a law to make the Yucca Mountain nuclear suppository (plug it) more secret. National security? Easier to shut the public out of the process and to hide mistakes more likely. Republicans from the right are even attacking their fellow Republicans. The gray-suited Club for Growth is targeting Republican lawmakers who aren’t for even larger tax cuts. Eeek.
We the people:
Alabama has been so loyal to the administration that the state is getting a chemical weapons incinerator. We have the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court contemplating ignoring a federal judge’s order to remove his 3,500 pound Ten Commandments monument from his court’s lobby. If he pulls this off, he’s ready to be nominated to a federal court of appeals. A Wyoming judge struck down a rule that was making oil and gas drilling on federal lands too difficult. Half his personal wealth is in energy investments. Since none of his investment companies is a party to the lawsuit, he didn’t see any problem. So much for judicial ethics.
Texas Republicans asked their Supreme Court to order 11 Democratic senators back from New Mexico. The Republicans think that it’s an “extraordinary occasion” to redraw congressional districts after only two years. The ACLU is challenging a land swap that gives the Mormon Church the right to control behavior on a downtown pedestrian plaza. So much for free speech.
New Jersey has outlawed driving while drowsy. The AAA has estimated that driving with 24-hours of sleep deprivation is the same as driving drunk. Some test subjects are suing the University of Iowa for psychological trauma stemming from a 1939 experiment to study their stuttering. So much for the statute of limitations.
We clean up all dem messes:
Charles Taylor hasn’t left yet. We’ve landed a seven-man contingent of marines for a limited roll. I’d guess seven marines is rather limiting. Idi Amin, near death, is now getting death threats. Isn’t it a bit late? A Tokyo Buddhist temple recently honored pachinko machines. Industry executives honored the machines that ended their working lives over the past year. Who could make that up? Forty-seven Turkish village leaders are under investigation for siphoning money for a toilet-building project to hire prostitutes. And foreign prostitutes at that. The Lahore city council has banned kite flying for three months. Mullahs think flying kites is un-Islamic. Could be. China is about to pass Taiwan as the world’s largest manufacturer of notebook computers. The Taiwanese manufacturing executives aren’t worried. They own the Chinese factories. Taiwanese factory workers are probably another story.
There is a heat wave in Europe, probably high-level retribution for not supporting the US in Iraq. Global warming has been good to the European wine industry. They are working on seven good years. Prince Charles just refurbished his late grandmother’s house. The British taxpayer paid most of the $9.7 million cost. Charlie paid for the door connecting his bedroom to Mrs. Parker-Bowles’s. Iceland is resuming limited whaling. They can only use a maximum of seven marines.
Taxes? Texas? Dollars? Dallas? It fits:
Good news. The California man whose cabin was stolen will have it replace gratis by a Santa Barbara company. Segue into a Segway. No one else seems to be. The $5,000 tag is a bit high to compete with a $400 electric scooter. I guess Kleiner Perkins and CSFB Equity Partners can afford their $38 million hits. The Titanic is falling apart. Tourist traffic hasn’t been good to it. Some of the 20,000 barrels of bourbon escaped from a giant warehouse fire by flowing into local streams. Local residents scrambled for free bourbon and branch, already mixed.
The GSA may bar Sprint (like MCI) from new federal contracts because overcharged the Justice Department $2 million. Evidently the GSA has higher moral standards than the Department of Defense. DOD would give a bonus for keeping overcharges down to $2 million. Private competitors say that Halliburton is dominating Iraq oil work. What a surprise.
Pretty soon a British telephone service will allow users to know where another person is at all times by tracking their mobile phones. Rev. Ashcroft’s boys are probably doing that now here. We’re dumb. We’re fat. We’re happy. Thirty million have already signed up for the federal do-not-call list (80% online). That must say something about something. A cigarette company is offering celebrities free smokes for life, however short that may be. Any publicity must be better than no publicity at all. Potentially life-saving stability controls are available for SUV’s. No one (auto makers, safety advocates, government) seems to be pushing for them except the Germans. And they didn’t support us in Iraq. The public prefers sunroofs and CD players.
Keith Richards lives another week:
Raquel Welch is separating from her fourth husband. He looks better than she does. Is Gray Davis next? Pfc. Jessica (private hero) Lynch has pulled out of an NBC movie deal. She wants her story in book form, disappointing her West Virginian neighbors who only know books-on-television. Omar Sharif is still gamboling and gambling. The 71-year-old bridge player and former actor head-butted a policeman in a French Casino. “Casino’s are a place you go to when you arrive in a town and you know nobody,” he recently told an interviewer. I prefer sushi bars myself.
Mike Tyson has declared chapter 11 bankruptcy. He estimates that he has made between $300 and $500 million in his career. That’s quite a spread. So he’s spent somewhere between $325 and $525 million in the same period. Maybe he ought to find out who’s advising Kobe Bryant.
To movies mirror our lives? If so, Americans must have written off sex. We must spend most of our time running from fireballs and rogue cops. It’s war. Drugs. Terrorists. Whatever.
© August 5, 2003 Jeff Rose