Thursday, December 22, 2005

Such Opulence!

Well folks, I wondered a few weeks back when I took a hiatus what it was that would get me to post again. Wehn I first saw this story on Tuesday, I was annoyed enough, but a put it out of my head for the moment. But no more.

On Tuesday, the Boston Herald did a lengthy "expose" on the spending habits of Representative Tom Delay as he criss-crossed the country raising money for his various political organizations.

I've never been one who believed in "campaign finance reform." These initiatives are what led to Political Action Committees and the spending of so-called "soft money" in the first place. Originally intended to make the political fundraising process "transparent," it did the opposite -- it provided politicians with ingenuity the opportunity to create multiple entities within which to amass corporate funds to subsidize their political "lifestyles."

Because he happens to be the nefarious flavor of the day, Rep. Delay's recent practices have drawn the prurient attention of the Associated Press. Never too proud to compromise when exposing a hated politico, this AP reporter plows ahead with his best imitation of the tabloid style. No incident is too insignificant to be emblazoned with the epithet "scandal," all the better to sell newspapers.

So the AP has done us the public service of laying bare Rep. Delay's lifestyle while on the fundraising road. Of course, no article worth its salt could be complete without obnoxious repetition of those button-pushing adjectives, "lavish" and "posh." Let's examine (buzzwords in italics):

[opening]...As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants - all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.

Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.....

Well that's all I need to know to string the man up. Sounds like a regular Dennis Kozlowski. The problem is, there's nothing inappropriate about it -- nothing that isn't par for the course. Let's pick apart some of these exaggerations:

....Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts with lush fairways; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two....

... Put them together and an opulent lifestyle emerges.

“A life to enjoy. The excuse to escape,” Palmas del Mar, an oceanside Puerto Rican resort visited by DeLay, promised in a summer ad on its Web site as a golf ball bounced into a hole and an image of a sunset appeared.....

Yes, AP, there's no place to prove more convincingly the allegation of "opulent lifestyle" than to quote from a resort's website advertising. It must be all true, like what you've written!

But look at those adjectives. "Four star restaurants (aren't there any five-star?); "Lush" fairways (I think that's a redundancy -- all fairways are lush); "world-class" hotels (does the FTC have a regulatory definition?). And the idea that dinner for two could run $200!! Why only the rich and famous do that!

And now, unconvinced that they've made the point of their story perfectly obvious to most of us, they spoon feed for the reading morons:

The spending shows how political power can buy access to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. While it’s illegal for a lawmaker to tap political donations for a family vacation, it is perfectly legal to spend it in luxury if the stated purpose is raising more money or talking politics.

Perfectly legal. Seems to get sort of lost in the story, dunnit?

So more of the rich-and-famous lifestyle:

“World class. Dynamic. Luxury resort. Spend a day, spend a week, spend a lifetime,” another DeLay fundraising spot, the ChampionsGate golf resort near Orlando, Fla., invites on its Web site.

The resort, where a round of golf typically costs $70 to $80 per player, has two championship courses designed by pro golfer Greg Norman and offers players a Global Positioning Satellite system it boasts “acts as a professional caddie.”

Obviously, the writer of this story is either not a golfer or has the intellectual honesty of Baghdad Bob. A round of golf (with cart) for $80? The noive. Fit for a King. And GPS on the carts? Hey pal, this is Orlando -- every golf course within 50 miles is "world-class," according to their websites. And they're all within reach of any Tom Dick or Harry who wants to take a $79 Jet Blue from Newark and get a room for $85 on Orbitz.

Shhh, don't tell Rep. Delay, though. He'll be embarrassed.

Okay, here's my take: How Delay spends the dough he's capable of lawfully raising from a bunch of fat cats is between him and them -- and if we have anything against it, then we should be supporting tearing up the damned campaign finance laws and rewriting them. It's not as though the corporations financing this lifestyle have a gun tot heir heads. "No" is a powerful word. And if anyone wants to protest about how a powerful man like Tom Delay can ruin their business if they don't write a check every time he sneezes, I say baloney.

But the one thing about this article that does make me feel great is that, according to this reporter, I have at times been fortunate enough to live like a king, what with an $80 round of golf (that I could even afford to pay for myself!) and a $200 dinner (ditto!) every once in a while.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Stabilizing Influence, NOT!

Doesn't this guy make you long for the good old days of Reza Pahlavi?

Scare the bejeeziss outta ya?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Keep Talkin' Condi

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Stuck on Idle

Dear friends,

I'll be posting very seldom for the forseeable future. Thanks for your interest in stopping by to see what's up here.

I had hoped to be able to fill the voids with bro's cartoons, but unfortunately, the photoblog tool on Blogger seems to be messing up (for me at least), so I can't even do that.

For those who are recent friends and haven't wandered back into the archives, help yourself. The humor stuff listed in the sidebar I am particularly proud of.

All the best,


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