"Representative Charles Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has temporarily surrendered his post pending an ethics investigation. They've been investigating him for three months now. And so far, they have not found a single trace of ethics." – Jay Leno
"Hey, how about this? President Obama had a meeting at the White House with Jay-Z and Beyoncé. And, in fact, they hit it off so well, Jay-Z gave the president his own rap name, 'Biggie Deficit.'" – Jay Leno
"I'm not sure if you guys have heard the latest update on healthcare reform, but Democrats are saying they hope to get a final healthcare vote before Easter. Well, I don't know. Two resurrections is a lot to hope for, don't you think?" – Jimmy Fallon
I wonder how I would feel if I braved going to my polling place to vote, then coming back home to find my house in rubble, bombed while I was away. The fact that so many Iraqis did vote for one of more than 350 candidates is a testament to their fortitude and determination to forge an identity. The doom-sayers are predicting that this may be the last free election in Iraq, because it will fall apart in sectarian violence after the US pulls out all of its troops in 2011. Of course Iraq can always replace them by hiring Blackwater mercenaries to take their place, think of it as sweet revenge...
Most other pundits in the region view Iraq as that couple down the street who are always arguing and at each other's throats, yelling at each other at the top of their lungs, so that you can never get to sleep on a Saturday night: “People in the region are definitely interested in democracy and in practicing their own rights,” said Mr. Abdullah, the political science professor from United Arab Emirates University. “But the Iraqi experience will have an impact on the region only once it stabilizes. Right now, it is so sectarian and unstable that it turns people off. If it becomes a stable democracy, then it will have some impact.” It's predicted that Mr Maliki will have retained his crown, and the emerging influential opposition will be the Allawi coalition, both campaigned on uniting Iraq in a secular way.
Not to be outdone by Iran's recent announcement that they were building more nuclear plants, both Israel and neighboring Syria today announced their plans to build another reactor. It will be Israel's third nuclear plant, and Syria's first. Both countries are immediately suspected of wanting to build nuclear weapons with the new plants, especially Syria, who has greater ties to Iran, and had their last attempt at building a facility bombed by Israel in 2007.
Interesting to note that Israel is contracting with France to build their reactors, Syria had used South Korea before and probably will again. South Korea is already contracted to build a reactor in the UAE, while Russia will do the honors in Iran. Iran's first centrifuges, which they still use, were bought from the US by the Shah, and the US was able to monkey-wrench them once when the Ayatollahs took over, which delayed their program for several years. No word on where each country plans on placing its nuclear waste, probably in rusty barrels dropped off the coast of some poor African country late at night, or in the harbor facing Gaza...
election for the Texas Board of Education. A moderate beat out Don McLeroy, who had served on the Board since 1999, and has been involved in an acrimonious debate over revising school textbook standards. This is important because Texas buys so many textbooks that the publishers use them as a standard for books sold to many other states, being cheaper than having a standard for each state. From Don's website:
"I believe God created the Heavens and the Earth millions and millions of years ago. I do not believe, as my opponent does, that the Earth is a mere few thousand years old, nor do I believe, as my opponent does, that dinosaurs and mankind lived at the same time."As you might have guessed, Don is a bit of an evangelical, but in an ignorant way. He is trying to get science kicked out and creationism put in, along with glorifying Ronald Reagan, though I think he has backed down on the greatest quotes from Newt Gingrich. A few other tidbits that he has espoused are:
"He said during a 2008 debate over science standards: "Is understanding of evolution 'vital' to the understanding of biology? No."
Last year he instructed curriculum writers to "read the latest on [Joseph] McCarthy -- he was basically vindicated."
He described his textbook evaluation process this way to the Washington Monthly: "The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan--he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes."
Finally, McLeroy successfully offered an amendment to U.S. history standards to require students to be able to "describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association." There is no liberal counterpart clause in the current draft of the standards." Because their are no Democrats running in his district, his opponent who won the primary will take his place.
Perhaps the diaspora of Californians into the surrounding states is beginning to have a mellowing influence on the population. I can hardly wait to see what happens when the virtual California good-old-boys, with their guns strapped onto their hips, swilling their Starbuck's lattes, and eating their Chuck-E-Cheeses, go out to meet their brethren in Dallas and Austin. What kind of cross-cultural hoedown will occur? How many Ford 150's can rev on the head of a pin? What is the sound of one chap clapping? Sierra Nevada or Shiner?... or maybe the narrow minded right winger's children have all grown up and began voting in some sanity... I know, I shouldn't make fun of Texas when I live in an ever more deeply conservative community. But in a recent poll that asked the question if James Dobson had made an important impression on the American landscape, 97% responded that no, he had not. Which gives me hope for our grandchildren, if there's anything left for them to inherit...