Dear Mayor Fausett,

Look, let me first say that it was probably a little rash of me to imply that your position as mayor of Coralville is stupid. Coralville is a great town, full of a mall, lots of restaurants on one's way into or out of Iowa City and hopefully, never, ever, ever a rainforest.

All Iowans can admit that the initial idea behind this "rainforest" was great. Oh you clever rascals, naming your federal dollar thirsty behemoth "Iowa Child." We love children in Iowa. Then there was the whole rainforest concept itself. Rain in Iowa...with forest, instead of prairie...great. Ever since all of those Bridges of Madison County and Field of Dreams tourists dried up, we've really been looking for a way to saddle up our state with a pork project to open the flood gates of tourists.

But, Mayor Fausett, there is a reason that no respectable city--Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Iowa City included--with the exception of your dear strip of a town wanted the rainforest. Not that I don't respect Ted Townsend for diligently peddling his $300 million monstrosity since 1996 or former Governor Robert Ray and Senator Chuck Grassley for their support, but now we need to think about the children.

What do the children want? Do the children want a federally-dependent sinkhole project, which requires an estimated 1.3 million visitors annually to continue to fester or, uh, other stuff? Clearly, other stuff.

Former Governor Robert Ray's most recent letter demanding support and the fulfillment of certain criteria is a wake-up call. Okay, more like multiple alarms sounding at once over the period of hours. Nonetheless, you can smell the sweet aroma of coffee wafting upstairs along with, what's that--bacon. It's time to carve up this pig and get out the old frying pan.

And that is all, Mayor Fausett, I just ask you to kill the pork.

A Concerned Citizen Who Occasionally Enjoys Bacon and Coffee

RUMBLINGS AT THE IOWA MEMORIAL UNION: Although University of Iowa Student Government (UISG) elections are not until next spring, more than a few little birds have been squawking in my ear about potential bids for the Presidency.

Not to give away the game, but a diverse slate of candidates have been rumored to consider a run, including current City Council Liaison Alternate Austin Baeth and former City Council candidate Flip Arkulary. Sounds like a few well-placed UISGers may be considering a go at it as well...



Bono Update, Part Huit

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, PAUL MARTIN: It must blow to be Paul Martin--not only is he Canadian, but in the past few days his administration faced a no-confidence vote and sharp criticism over his plan to provide native Indians with more firewater/economic development.

To make matters worse, Martin has lost the Irish rockstar support bloc.

Prior to a concert in Ottawa, Bono told reporters that "I like him very much personally, and I just think it's a huge opportunity that [Martin is] missing out on." Giving money to corrupt African regimes to fuel civil wars and genocide sure is missing out.

Shoot, it'd be worse than missing Rent in theatres.

Bono, Man of Peace Bob Geldof and others have said that with the budget surpluses Canada has experienced in recent years, the country is in a prime position to increase its foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of the budget, instead of .3 per cent. Either that or Canada could stop subsidizing their communist lumber industry.

"I am personally not just disappointed, I'm crushed actually, because I really believed that the Prime Minister would do that," Bono said. "I felt, as a former finance minister, he would be able to make the numbers work."

Jesus, Bono--he's the prime minister, not an employee at Enron.

NOTE TO DEER--AVOID OPEN MEADOWS, FORESTS AND COUNCIL BLUFFS: In the redneck tradition, let's go bow hunting...in Council Bluffs...

This is clearly going to end well.


Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

THIS IS ONLY A TEST: Education in America is clearly unbiased--just like BBC reporting.

A high school teacher is facing questions from administrators after giving a vocabulary quiz that included insults directed toward President Bush. Bret Chenkin, a social studies and English teacher, asked students to pick the proper words to complete sentences.

Sentences like: "I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence ensuring him Republican votes."

Bret Chenkin is an "incoherent left-wing nut indoctrinating our children" is the right answer.

For his part, Mr. Chenkin claims his quizzes are being taken out of context and he'll include both views "if it's going to cause a lot of grief." Jeez, this is a vocabulary test, there's not a need to present any views when testing if kids know the difference between coherent and eschewed.

Okay, unless the kiddies are reading works of George Orwell and the like, English shouldn't be a subject with much political dialogue.

Let Principal Sue Maguire know how you feel.



Santa Update, Part One

SANTA VISITS EXPECTED TO CLOG ARCTIC SKIES: Over the next few weeks, air traffic controllers in Denmark, Norway and Sweden will be enduring the headache of Christmas spirit of sorts.

Apparently, 400,000 Europeans, mostly from the UK, pilgrimage to the Arctic village of Rovaniemi, the official home of Father Christmas, to try to spot the guy in the Finnish sky.

I hope the man in the red offers his guests cookies and milk.






Boldest Political Move of the Day

DASHING THE HOPES OF TURKEYS EVERYWHERE: We've always known that Governor Vilsack is a man of steely resolve; I'm talking union steel, steel that may occasionally need to take a mandatory smoke break.

Shell out the Virginia Slims and light up the oven, because this Thanksgiving Vilsack will be assuaging all of or bird flu fears by eating turkey. The newly pro-capital punishment governor has refused to traditionally pardon a bird.

This is presidential material, folks. Gobble, gobble.


#9,568 Why I Hate Unions: World's first Starbucks strike in Auckland, New Zealand.

Hey, just because I pay $4 a latte doesn't me you need to get paid $12 an hour! Don't you realize people need coffee!!!!


Most Irrelevant Country of the Week: Central Asian Edition

PROVING THAT TULIPS AREN'T JUST DUTCH: Welcome to the beautiful country of Kyrgystan, with spiraling mountainous peaks and a name that is harder to spell than "Tajikistan," this former democratic stronghold is just the place to get a lesson in corruption and nepotism.

Unlike the slew of other prettily named revolutions (e.g. Georgian Rose Revolution of '03 and Ukrainian Orange Revolution of '04), the so-named Tulip Revolution in Kyrgystan included rampantly violent undertones. During the overthrow of the increasingly corrupt, "popularly-elected" government of President Askar Akayev, massive looting occurred in the capitol.

Just the thing for a natural resource-deficient country of 5.3 million with a GNI per capita less than my monthly rent!

Since the Revolution, Kyrgystan has followed the French model of anarchy. We'll see where that takes 'em. Of course, as long as we get to keep our airbase to fight the "War on Terror", we're cool with that.

Here's to you, irrelevant Central Asian "friend"--may 1 Kyrgyzstani Som be worth more than $.02 in the future!


FINALLY PROVING THAT LOADS OF LAKES AND ELK GOT NOTHING ON IOWA: Minnesota is a horrible state--and just to keep with the natural selection theme from the last blog entry--that doesn't deserve to live!

However, I suppose we can tolerate them a bit longer, since Iowa walloped the Gophers 52-28.

Ed Hinkel caught four touchdown passes to set a Kinnick Stadium record, Damian Sims scored on a 71-yard run and Iowa shut down the nation's No. 1 rushing offense. In other words, "Boo-yah!"

Iowa (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) improved its bowl prospects with its fifth straight victory over Minnesota. Hey, it won't be New Year's Day, but God-willing it won't be the Motor City Bowl.

Here we come...Alamo Bowl?



Special Edition: Stupid Movie Stars

THE THINGS PEOPLE SHOULDN'T SAY: Have you heard someone utter something so ridiculous that you pray natural selection kicks in straight away and removes the waste of space from your sight?

Well folks, in honor of Johnny Depp's recent posturing on the superiority of France and thoughts of returning to the US, I present to you dumb celebrity quotes:

Johnny Depp hates puppies:"America is dumb, is something like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive," he went on to say, "My daughter is four, my boy is one. I'd like them to see America as a toy, a broken toy. Investigate it a little, check it out, get this feeling and then get out."

Richard Gere loves literary classics:"I keep asking myself where all this personal enmity between George Bush and Saddam Hussein comes from. It's like the story of Captain Ahab and the great white whale from Moby Dick."

Edward Norton-German-Franco Alliance:"It must be good to be in Germany and France because I have completely forgotten what it is like to be proud of your government"

I wonder if Spike Lee supports sweatshops in China too?:"It's ludicrous to expect the whole world to follow what they want. America doesn't have the moral right to tell other people what to do."

Jon Bon Jovi:
"I campaigned hard for Al Gore."

Janeane Garfalo's definition of patriotism:
"Our country is founded on a sham: our forefathers were slave-owning rich white guys who wanted it their way. So when I see the American flag, I go, 'Oh my God, you're insulting me.' That you can have a gay parade on Christopher Street in New York, with naked men and women on a float cheering, 'We're here, we're queer!' -- that's what makes my heart swell. Not the flag, but a gay naked man or woman burning the flag. I get choked up with pride."

Jeez, every comment from these people is like a drunk dial. Clearly, big movie stars are very intelligent.



A Tribute to Rick Sanotrum, Bono and some dude...

AN AMAZING PICTURE, A MEDIOCRE STORY: Dang, that Bono does get around. When he's not curing AIDS, gracefully losing the Nobel Peace prize to Mohamed ElBaradei or just generally acting like a socially conscious rock star, he's posing in photo ops with Pennsylvanian Evangelical senators. Wonders never cease!

A fellow conservative in arms and student at the University of Chicago, e-mailed me an update from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute--one of the few pro-conservative student institutes out there--including this lovely pic.

Apparently, the some dude, George Srour, met with Senator Rick Santorum and rock legend, Bono to discuss his noble purpose to start the non-profit organization, "Building Tomorrow: Destination Kampala." Srour shared his new organization's initiative to serve orphans impacted by AIDS in Uganda with Senator Santorum and Bono.

Great. Bono loves AIDS. Santorum loves orphans he can convert to Christianity. Match made in AIDs-infested heaven. Jeez, if only we could get Bob Geldof in there to sing to them. Maybe they could broadcast it on AOL.

Reflecting on the objective of ISI's Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose, Bono said, "Focusing your life on bringing hope and justice to those in despair and poverty, one person, one family, at a time, is not just all you can do...it is everything."

Cheers to you--Rick, Bono and some dude.


THE CAMPAIGN BEGINS: Our wooden-shoed friend Vander Plaats (he's Dutch, people) attacks Nussle's inability to cut pork from federal budget, contradicting Iowa's 5-1 hog/person ratio...and corn subsidies.

A SIGN: You know the Democratic Party is on the skids when the former First Daughter is hanging out with Tara Reid. Yikes...


CONFIRMATION: I'm a conservative. Great.
You are a

Social Conservative
(21% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(73% permissive)

You are best described as a:

Strong Republican

Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test


"Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." -John F. Kennedy

"Go fuck yourself." -Dick Cheney

A lovely place full of lovely people. Explore one man's journey through the stinking sewage that is our nation's capitol.


UN REFORM: Kofi Annan hires former McKinsey managing director; recommendation to lose 10 stories surprisingly unwelcome.


IOWA WEATHER: First tornadoes, now snow? I am totally shaking my fist at you right now Mother Nature.


Most Irrelevant Country of the Week

COME ENJOY THE SPLENDOR OF MAURITANIA: Because slavery and nomads make a really, really irrelevant country.

Largely composed of desert, the Arab country "officially" banned slavery in 1981 and is one of three countries to forge ties with Israel.

Despite its status as one of the poorest countries in the world, Mauritania is considered a US ally on the "war on terror"...oh yeah, before Ely Ould Mohammed Vall staged a coup while President Taya was out of the country for a funeral.

Classy Vall, classy.

Cheers to a country full of desert and crippling poverty.


JIM NUSSLE FOR GOVERNOR: I never thought I'd get directions from a member of Congress. Heck, most politicians don't even know what direction the country should be headed in, let alone how to get to Marion.

Yet, still on Saturday morning Jim Nussle was on the phone while I hurriedly made my way to his campaign training.

Chock full of precinct leaders and green armbands, Jim Nussle is steering ahead with his campaign. Check it out.


JUST SAY NO TO RAINFORESTS...IN IOWA: Good old Chuck Grassley. You can always count on the Grassman to ride his lawnmower into town to save the day, or in this case move toward ending the idiotic Coralville rainforest project.

Started lovingly enough, Iowa Child has exploded into an unaccountable, flailing waste of time and money. Finally, organizers will have to pony up something more than a cool website and delays.

Cheers to Grassley for finally taking proactive steps to snatch the $50 million in federal money he helped to secure in 2003. If backers can't scramble up matching private donations within two years, the federal money will be revoked. And that's a good thing.

IOWA DEMOCRATS COME OUT SWINGING: Okay, really just whiffing it, but let's give them some extra credit, eh?

Iowa Democrats attacked gubernatorial candidate and House member Jim Nussle on his support of a Republican plan to trim about $50 million from the federal budget. Wow, trimming the federal budget. What a horrible, horrible idea...that Congress continues to fudge up.



Coffee Good

FINALLY, A LITTLE LOVE FROM SCIENCE: Not that I'm a huge fan of scientific findings--unless of course they support my viewpoint--but, this one is a doozie. And by doozie, I mean the best study ever...that supports my viewpoint.

For years, people have foolishly assumed that caffeine has negative health consequences. But come on people, why are you harping on about shaking hands, blood-shot eyes and hypertension when you get energy in exchange? People in Saudi Arabia are dying for fossil fuel; we can stroll down to the corner Starbucks for energy beyond our wildest dreams (i.e. $4 lattes).

However, mind power has debunked this heresy. Researchers have found that women who consume miniscule quantities of coffee (otherwise known as three cups a day) are 7-12 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than their non-coffee drinking peers.

First red wine, now coffee. I love studies.

In other news, Starbucks attempts a hostile takeover of Christmas through online shenanigans.

EVEN GOD HATES WAL-MART: Or maybe just man. Either way, this still must be a sign of something.

NOW THAT'S NEWSWORTHY: Not to toot my own horn, ticker tape my own parade or lack Midwestern modesty, but loyal readers, I just thought I'd let you know about a recent press release about me.

Me. The most important person EVER. Okay, maybe other than this dude.

FERMENTED APPLES AND FOREST CREATURES: God bless the BBC. You just have to love the headline Sozzled elks hound old folks home.

This is newsworthy.



BUILD A BETTER BUSH: If only democracy was truly this easy. Now, if we could only get him to demostrate some fiscal constraint...



Tomorrow, Iowa City will elect four at-large representatives to the Iowa City Council. Yard signs sprinkle the city, the editorial page is entrenched with opinions, but most importantly, candidates have raised around $33,000.

Except of course, for Rick Dobyns, who has spent $74 in the last few weeks.

According to the DI, "It wasn't really a strategy - his campaign just ran out of money, Dobyns said."

Hmmmm...I wonder who will lose the election.

GRASSLEY TELLS OIL COMPANIES TO HELP POOR: Oil companies tell Grassley to use recycled paper.

2008 CAMPAIGN UPDATE: All due respect Democratic Party of Iowa--which leaves me in the clear--but, really, touting Tom Daschle as a 2008 presidential nominee?

Unlike a floundering vessel full of Somalian pirates (see post below), there is no deep, watery grave for politicians. Much like a parking attendant, Kennedy, Gephardt, Harkin, Clinton and now, Daschle keep making their rounds to dole out tickets and generally annoy the world.

You can see the parallels.

Really, Tom. Wasn't it enough that your home state wouldn't even elect you?

But, good 'ol Sally Pederson must have it just right:
"I think Senator Daschle does very well here in Iowa because he is a midwesterner, he understands the midwest, I think he's very comfortable with us and I think people here are very comfortable with him."

First of all, South Dakota is not *really* in the Midwest. Yes, the hog to person ratio is a qualifier...then there's that whole strategic Midwest location thing...details. And secondly, as Iowans, we shouldn't have such low standards.

SHAME ON YOU, JOHNNY DEPP: Apparently, pirates have expanded beyond the Caribbean...


THE STUDENT VOICE COUNTS: As long as it isn't actually COUNTED.

Partly to counter the perennial push for a 21-ordinance and partly to satisfy the trendy screams for "civic engagement," the University of Iowa Student Government has been working overtime to convince somebody that the "student voice" matters.

I mean, let's boil down the issues here. As students, the long-term stability of Iowa City isn't a concern; hell, I doubt anyone even knows a thing about the energy privatization vote next Tuesday. Our beef revolves around open bars, the availability of kegs, better parking and the presence old couches on our porches.

In order to push these “student issues”, UISG worked feverishly last year to add a new player to the mix. Since May, Jeremy Schreiber has served on the frontline as UISG's non-voting City Council liaison. The brainchild of past Vice President Jason Shore, this position was meant to foster closer relations between the student body and the harassed citizenry of Iowa City. Jockeying for City Council support for Schreiber was enough of a task, let alone in UISG, given the untimely disclosure of an underage drinking ticket.

After serving on the Nominations Committee and orchestrating the legislative maneuvering to get Schreiber confirmed (with the ever Honorable Barry Pump--oh, he is an institution), less than six months later I have my doubts. Student participation sounds like a fine, high and lofty goal, but why?

Apparently Councilor Dee Vanderhof has also witnessed the disconnect, noting that "Schreiber only offered input on issues directly pertaining to issues important to students instead of taking a more expansive view of the city."

To be sure, this problem is not just isolated to Jeremy. Anyone would be in a pickle. There just aren't enough issues to make the "collective student voice"--that the powers that be like to harp on about--relevant. And as transitory residents, how could we have an expansive view?

In contrast, Tom Niblock and Kelly Mellecker are actually civically engaging (yeah, it's an expression) by serving on the Housing and Community Development Commission. In this capacity, the students have the opportunity to allocate a small pot of money for affordable housing--an issue that every overcharged, AUR-hating Iowa student can understand.

So where is the balance? I don’t know. But, if you’ve got a solution I surely would be glad to write-up a resolution for the next student assembly meeting.

Embittered toward UISG, indeed.


ANOTHER REASON TO HATE THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: They're trying to take Iowa's spotlight away! Stupid New Hampshire.

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