Thursday, December 14, 2006

#329 - To Blog or not to Blog

Cam is taking another hiatus from his blogging efforts for the immediate future. I can understand where he's coming from.

Blogging is definitely one of those high maintenance activities that, if not balanced properly, can turn into a really bad marriage. When one partner becomes "needy," the other invariably suffers. Thus I can understand his desire to turn off the blog machine for awhile and take a few steps back. Time to regroup; recharge the ol' batteries; take a deep breath and take care of long-neglected business.

Like any new toy, my blogs have taken more than their fair share of my time over the past several months. Fortunately, I've settled into a new pattern that means I spend less time blogging, and more time enjoying the events about which I intend to blog. Someday. But I also refuse to put myself under any personal editorial pressure. There's just no reason for it, and what I have to say isn't all that important except to myself and my loved ones. Plus a few hangers-on who happen to say nice things to me occasionally. Aw, heck, even my two or three detractors are appreciated, if in a weird, perverse sort of way.

In Cam's situation, blogging has (temporarily, I'm pretty certain) become something of a millstone around the neck. He's probably on the cusp of remembering some things he's needed to give some attention for a long while now, and by golly he's determined to do so. Then Nancy Pelosi will nominate Howard Dean to replace John Bolton at the U. N., and he'll be unable to help himself. Did I mention that Nancy plans to have Il Divo sing "Auld Lang Syne*" at the Capitol New Year's Eve party?

Anyway, he'll be back.

In the meantime, I have to chuckle whilst echoing Cam's sentiments in his "farewell" post. The Republican party, he says, has "lost its way." Out with the old; in with the new. I chuckle because, Republican though we may be, we're not so all-fired dedicated to the party that we wouldn't mind seeing a good shakeup in the party elite right about now.

The heart of the matter is the two-faced approach taken by nearly all professional pols before and after an election. In the off-season - that time of year when no one is running for anything but their latest ethics violations - all politicians talk the tough conservative/liberal rhetoric. They'll make the most provocative statements they can think of to remind everyone of just how conservative/liberal they can really be. Then, come election time everyone moves hard-center so as to appease as many voters as possible. With few notable exceptions, the provocative rhetoric gets toned waaaay down just about everywhere except in the shouting matches between old and new media types. The pols are getting better (since Kerry redefined "open mouth, insert foot") about shutting the heck up and letting us fight their battles for them. Then they'll cozy up with whomever appears to be winning and make that their ticket to election.

All of this takes concerted effort if you wish to be a dedicated blogger with any aspirations to participating in the national debate. That effort can be mentally fatiguing, especially in a year when your party does not do well at the polls. Yes, it's a huge let-down that we lost control of Congress in this election. But it's an even bigger disappointment that our current garbage bag of party leadership seem not to have learned any lessons from this latest rout. I don't know what they're expecting in 2008, but unless Romney adds walking on water to his bag of tricks, I don't smell a Republican win two years from now. Not with our party leadership as currently constituted.

Here in California, Republicans - the traditional ones - are apparently all but extinct. With Schwarzenegger showing more and more of his Kennedy stripes with each passing month, I don't wonder that at some point he'll just give up the pretense and change his ticket to Democrat once he leaves the Governor's office. That means our poster boy for conservative causes is himself becoming a lost cause. Behind whom will we rally next time around? There are no shining stars in the party right now, unless McClintock suddenly grows a spine and begins positioning himself to make a run at a serious office, like U. S. Senator. So far, I don't see anyone having the gumption to stand up to the Lib Sisters and take 'em on issues alone.

Thus, I, too, have undertaken a brief sabbatical from political blogging. This is not to say that I don't care right now. Far from it. However, there's not much to debate at the moment. No one is taking a true leadership role in any of our current political hot-buttons. Iraq either is or is not a "quagmire." We've either lost, or will stay for as long as it takes. We're either fighting al Qaeda, or a war against terror. The definitions are becoming hazier with each passing day. Border control is vital, but no one seems anxious to anger our neighbors to the south. Certainly no one in office is willing to be the bad guy these days. Thus we have far too little support coming from those we elected to represent our interests.

That said, I'm certainly not removing myself from the blogging arena. Writing is a need of mine. It helps me focus my thoughts and keeps my communication skills limbered up. I've been writing for a long time now, and having somewhere to keep a record of my thoughts and see how they interact with others is a real treat for me. Even if I only reach a handful of real readers, it's still a kick.

This blog ain't going anywhere anytime soon. There's still plenty of stuff out there to write about.

And, as I say, Cam will be back.

* By the way, I'm kidding about Il Divo singing at the Capitol. But you just know Cam would blog about that!

Friday, December 08, 2006

#328 - It's All About the Money

Sorry for the absence of blogging lately. It's a busy time of year and I actually try to spend as much free time as possible with my family. It's a holiday season, but beyond that I have no excuse.

That doesn't mean I'm not trolling the news every day. Most of the time I just zip past most of what Drudge deems to be noteworthy. I have no idea what constitutes a "standard" at the Drudge Report, but I've sure never been able to figure him out.

Anyway, this morning Drudge pointed to this little gem about the father of Chelsea Clinton's boyfriend getting tossed in the clink for fraud in connection with those Nigerian e-mail scams. And not in the way that immediately sprang to my mind, either.

The very first time I received one of those e-mails I must admit to being somewhat nonplussed. How on earth did this guy get my name, and why is he offering to cut me in on this deal? That lasted for about, oh, fifteen seconds. Then my Internet Survival Instincts kicked in and I immediately began looking for background on the scam. Sure enough, at the time it was on the list of fraud schemes that the Secret Service was keeping an eye on. I don't think they even bother anymore. Back then, though, I was encouraged to forward the e-mail to the Secret Service fraud investigators as part of their ongoing investigation. I felt like a useful citizen for a few minutes afterward.

From that time, of course, I have successfully ignored anything coming into my e-mail that even smacks of being a scam. Even when I get those rather authentic-looking phishes with the logo of my somewhat obscure credit union in them I don't so much as blink. I just let my spam filter quietly and efficiently drop them into Spam Outer Darkness.

So to read that this former congressman (whose wife also happens to be a current congressperson) and friend of the Clintons actually was connected to one of these schemes, I was ready to cheer that they'd finally nailed one of the idiots responsible for so much of the spam that overloads my filters every day.

Not quite. You see, I've always just assumed that the only people dumb enough to fall for these schemes were the same ones who read Weekly World News or the Los Angeles Times and actually believed what they were reading. I mean, how gullible can ya get?

Then to find that Ed Mezvinsky, a former congressman (who would be assumed to have a level of intelligence above paramecium) actually fell for one of these scams - not once, but multiple times - is just too much to be believed.

Apparently, as with gambling or narcotics, these scams are addicting. This man's personal greed and avarice were such that he began defrauding clients and relatives in order to support his habit.

I mean, at what point did he fail to understand that these schemes were never meant to benefit him??

Ah, well. This one gets to spend time in prison contemplating his sins. As a friend of the Clintons, I'm assuming he'll contemplate them right back into another run for office. He's probably assuming Hillary will be in office then, and he'd like to be invited to more state dinners.

Preferably with Nigerian diplomats.