Tuesday, March 30, 2004


(...And Other Random Thoughts on A Tuesday Night)

Members of the Republican National Committee have managed to persuade the Federal Election Commission to look at new rules that would shut down non-profit groups that publicly criticize the Bush Administration or members of Congress--which, of course, we should all be doing.

According to information compiled in part from moveon.org and partly from the Federal Election Commission's own press release (available at http://www.fec.gov/press/press2004/.html), the proposed rules changes could redefine nonprofit organizations as political committees if they "criticize or commend members of Congress or the President based on their official actions or policy positions."

This change would hurt many groups ability to raise and spend funds, increase government scrutiny on the organization in question and limit discussion about government policy within the organization and in the group's publications and websites. If the rules are adopted, any non-profit that was reclassified as a political organization would be exempt from receiving grants from any corporation, union or individual in excess of $5,000. Just for being attached to a statement like, "the Bush Administration miscalculated by sending troops into Iraq searching for weapons of mass destruction." This ruling wouldn't just apply to non-profit groups with known political ties either. It would affect cancer research charities, poverty reform groups, environmental and civil rights organizations. What it really is, of course, is a way to nibble at our civil liberties and Constitutional rights in a way that most Americans won't notice--at first.

There's the old cliche about "slippery slopes". Well, it says here that this is one slippery slope that will slide all Americans right into hell if we don't put the brakes on this insidious ploy by conservatives to scare people into supporting a corrupt and morally bankrupt administration. I urge anyone who reads this to research it, write your congresspeople and put a stop to the FEC's hearings while we will still can. I have.

She Lives In His Lap

Dr. Condoleeza Rice will finally get to appear before the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission on Wednesday, the Bush administration having backtracked on it's earlier position that it's national security advisor shouldn't "set a precedent" and be forced to answer questions about why the U.S. misled the American people into a bloody, expensive and still unfinished (despite what you may have heard) invasion of Iraq. Don't expect much. Her answers will be so vague, so wrapped in bureaucratic doubletalk that I doubt there will be any bombshells. The Puppetmaster, Dick Cheney, along with his accolyte Donald Rumsfeld, will carefully craft Rice's statements to make the administration look as innocent as possible, while still hewing just close enough to the truth to avoid any obvious purgery (Rice will be under oath). I'm sure there are days when Dr. Rice wishes she were back at Stanford, tomorrow will certainly be one of them, but I'm not going to feel sorry for her in the least, given that there are plenty of American soldiers and Iraqi citizens who, despite the unquestionable good that came from deposing Saddam Hussein, have nonetheless suffered a great deal from the actions resulting from this ill-begotten war.

And the worst, from a foreign policy standpoint in the Middle East, is yet to come.

Every Day I Feel A Lot Older

I went on a wonderful date yesterday (don't get excited, it's not THAT kind of blog) and participated in the live satellite broadcast of the Prince concert from Los Angeles's Staples Center. The concert was terrific, Prince hasn't lost anything now that he's fortysomething and I promise to give a full concert review in Friday's blog. But for now I just have to tell you the one surreal moment for me from the concert (other than realizing that Prince's main concert foil, co-vocalist and lead saxophone player is none other than Candy Dulfer, Arsenio Hall's former bandleader. She looks younger now than she did ten years ago, but I digress).

During the encore, the people in the audience raised their lit cellphones to beg Prince for more, in lieu of using matches or cigarette lighters. It was...well, weird! I had never seen that before and I was wondering if that's what's done around the world (in a day) now, or if it's just an LA/Orange County thing. You tell me, but between that and the 20th anniversary of Purple Rain, I felt instantly, inescapably, old.

Quick Hits

--For all the pools that got blown up over the last two weeks, didn't you just know that somehow Duke, Connecticut and Oklahoma State would find their way into the men's Final Four? Even Georgia Tech isn't exactly Cinderella...they're a #4 seed if memory serves me right. My pick to win the whole damn thing is Oklahoma State, but I'm having a hard time giving a damn this year.

--On the women's side, they do need to do something about having UConn, Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and/or Duke win it every year. Just once, give us some fresh faced gals from, say, Northern Arizona cutting down the nets and someone might pay attention. (But unfortunately, probably not.)

--24 may not be a great show anymore, but they seem to be setting up one hell of a finale this year. Every year, their writing staff does the worst job of writing themselves into a corner and does the most amazing narrative backflips to get themselves out.

--In the future, I will devote an entire blog to the collapse of customer service in this country (followed by a related column on the decline of logic and reasoning skills on a widespread level), but for now I'll just say that if you think it's a simple thing to send a one-pound package across town via an unnamed shipping company (that may or may not drive shit-colored trucks), you'd better think again. And be prepared to spend a lot of time talking to several disinterested service reps repeating the same information over and over again...

--Why exactly is it taking John Kerry so long to name John Edwards as his running mate?

--Scary Fact of the Week: geneticists have already developed the means by which potential parents can accentuate certain physical characteristics in their unborn offspring. And there is as yet no formal law that deals with this issue.

--Weird Music Trivia That Probably Only Interests Me: John Lennon contributed lyrics to David Bowie's classic hit, "Fame". Among the backup vocalists--Luther Vandross.

Ta ta for now. Don't let the Conservatives grind you down...