Saturday, January 31, 2009

Just to Mix Things Up

I apologize for the dearth of blogging of late. I'm normally much more vocal than this, particularly when I fear that we'll soon be printing money so fast that we'll quickly end up with hyperinflation a la post-war Germany when the Papiermark collapsed was ultimately replaced by the Reichsmark at a rate of roughly one trillion to one.

In the meantime, Hacienda Woody is gearing up for a momentous event. In late March and early April our Stake will produce "Savior of the World," a musical drama originally commissioned for the opening of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. I say "momentous" because all four of us are participating in this production, Woodyettes included.

Since we're up to our necks in rehearsal (or would be were it not for this dratted bronchitis/flu we seem to be fighting at the moment), it's entirely possible that blogging from Yours Truly will be light — even non-existent. My apologies. With that in mind, however, look over at The Inner Dad for updates related to the show, and even links to a few production photos.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

When Newscasters Become Too Important

So we're trying to enjoy (as best any Republican can truly "enjoy") the inauguration today. We even encouraged the Woodyettes to sit and watch the swearing-in ceremonies, all the while knowing that what they really wanted was for their uncle to pick them up and take them to Disneyland for the day. Then Mrs. Woody and I sat back to watch the pomp and ceremony surrounding the most peaceful transfer of power found anywhere in the civilized world today.

What we get instead are hour after hour of useless political commentary and "insight" surrounding this "historic" occasion. I have surfed through CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, CSPAN, you name it. Even local news orgs are having the same diarrhea of the mouth.

Not one. Not one single marching band have we heard today. Nothing but cameras following Obama's car every inch along the parade route. And even if we do happen to see an actual band, we do not get to hear them. Not those kids who flew how many thousands of miles from Hawaii to the nation's capital so they could perform for the millions packed into Washington D. C. today. Not even the Marines were afforded the common courtesy of allowing them to be heard over the networks.

Mrs. Woody, every inch a Republican as am I, put it best: "I really wanted this inauguration to do something for me. Instead I'm frustrated that I couldn't enjoy it at all."

Thanks again, Talking Heads, for ruining an otherwise significant and historic event. May you all rot.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hollywood Reinvents Truth. Again.

Tom Hanks is a wonderful actor, one whose work I have long admired. I especially enjoy his fondness for the historical significance of the American space program, as witnessed by his participation in "Apollo 13" and producing "From the Earth to the Moon" for HBO. I even (MALE BETRAYAL ALERT) enjoy his rom-com work with Meg Ryan.

Still, Hanks' fondness for extremely large toys (such as space ships) should not be construed as being indicative of having a conservative bent; Hanks is just as liberal as Hollywood comes.

For all my huff and blow about liberals (and Hollywood libs being among the worst), I still appreciate their guaranteed rights to express their opinions, no matter how wrong-headed they are. But I refuse — absolutely refuse — to excuse them in their ignorance. Hanks' ignorance about Prop 8 is expressed in this statement the actor made to Fox News:
“The truth is this [series "Big Love"] takes place in Utah, the truth is these people [speaking of polygamists] are some bizarre offshoot of the Mormon Church, and the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop-8 happen,” he told Tarts. [Fox's "Pop Tarts" column]
This insistence by liberals to smear the Church for daring to support what a majority of Californians supported in November reminds me that politics makes liars out of just about everyone at one time or another. But this particular lie is especially egregious as it paints all members of the Church as being highly prejudiced, and makes them the targets of choice of the anti-8 mobsters. To call us "un-American" in the process is just childish.

For the record, Mr. Hanks: The Church did not receive money from its members to "make Prop-8 happen." We in fact donated whatever money we could directly to the campaign on advice of the Church to support what we feel is an important social issue. We also donated time and energy — again, directly — to the campaign, going door to door and making phone calls to encourage folks to vote for the measure. Hence it is deceitful to insist that the Church took money for this purpose. One might even call it wrong-headed.

Does this mean I will never again watch one of Hanks' movies? Of course not. Even if Hollywood can't, I have no trouble separating entertainment from politics. Hanks' political views take nothing away from his acting, and I certainly don't have to agree with the man in order to watch one of his projects. Heck, I still think Susan Sarandon made one heck of an attorney in "The Client," and she holds even more odious political views than Hanks does. And don't get me started on Sarandon's paramour, Tim Robbins, whom I look forward to seeing in "The City of Ember." (Yep. Missed it in the theaters. But it's coming out on DVD next week.)

The truth will out, they say, but don't look for it to come from Hollywood.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

While We Were In an Election-Induced Stupor Last Year

There's an excellent reason why we should outlaw general elections in this country: we simply can't afford to take our eyes off of Congress, even for 24 short months (give or take). Seems that while we were obsessing over which under-qualified, party-betraying candidate should get our vote, Congress and our very-lame duck President slipped a fast one by us.

It's H.R. 4040, titled "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008," and it's about to put a hefty chunk of Americans out of business on February 10th of this year.

In fact, this one slid through so neatly that it barely made a ripple on the conference vote. Out of 535 possible votes, it garnered only 3 "nays," while 8 voted "present" or abstained. That included Senators McCain, Obama, and Clinton. I believe President Bush would have signed it even without the veto-proof support this one received.

Now, don't get me wrong: there are plenty of reasons to upgrade our product safety standards. The lead-based paint scares coming from China a while back were sufficient to light a sizeable fire underneath a normally do-nothing-or-at-least-do-it-incorrectly Congress. Import standards have been lax for decades, and innocent people suffer as a result. Lead poisoning is still a leading cause of permanent injury or death among children in this country and is therefore nothing to take lightly.

The problem, however, is what happens when you take a typical government reaction to such problems and churn out legislation quickly and without regard for consequences. Such is the case with H.R. 4040. The new standards — which include stringent, not to mention extremely expensive testing requirements — will overwhelm your typical small business owner. Reactions guaged by this report from are typical. The cost of testing for lead has been quoted at anywhere from $75 to $400 per article (think: one book). As one retailer put it, "There's a big difference between me and Wal-Mart or Toys 'R' Us."

Hardest hit, of course, will be the thrift and consignment stores. My family has benefitted, both directly and indirectly, from thrift stores over the years. My sister-in-law is the queen of thrifters in our family circle, and we have been handing clothes back and forth since our Jelly Woodyette was born nearly twelve years ago. But since we can't certify that our hand-me-downs are lead free, this law pretty much makes it illegal to continue that practice.

So, as is typical with our United States Congress (motto: Never Got It Right So Far; Probably Never Will), we now have a law that will put thousands of Mom and Pop operations permanently out of business, fatten the pockets of the testing labs and the special interests that backed this legislation, and turn our landfills into retail graveyards. All because some greedy importers didn't keep their ethical eyes on the ball.

Go team.

Friday, January 02, 2009

What Is It with Democrats and "Experience?"

In years past my voice was raised in favor of "voting the bums out." It doesn't really take much to get disgusted with Congress (or even local legislatures), so just about every two years we will hear calls for getting rid of the incumbents and replacing them with people who are somewhat more anatomically correct (you know what I'm talking about). So I freely admit that I have, on occasion, been among those who have felt the need for a complete overhaul of legislative bodies. So to speak.

I'm not so sure the Democrats' solution is the way to do it, though.


The primary reasons Barack Obama won are 1) he isn't George W. Bush, and 2) anyone must be better than George W. Bush, no matter how little actual experience he has. I'm pretty sure there was a race/diversity angle in there somewhere, too, but that has nothing to do with this discussion.

Now it's time to appoint a couple of Senate replacements, both of whom just happen to be Democrats. One would think Joe Biden also needs replacing, but Connecticut is so small that it may well be simply annexed by Massachussets later this year. Anyway, this is where the Democrats get to shine and appoint people to replace President-for-Life-Elect Obama and Secretary-of-State-Consolation-Prize winner Hillary Clinton.

Illinois kicks off the Name That Senator sweeps with an appointee named by Corrupt Governor (I know, I know... it's redundant) Blagojevich. The appointee, a man named Burris, apparently campaigned hard for the posting as soon as it became evident that Obama's term would end abruptly in January of this year. Most unfortunately, he finds himself now permanently guilty by association of being just another cog in the perpetually corrupt Illinois political machine. This forces the ever-ethical United States Senate, led by Harry "Land Deal? What Land Deal?" Reid, to claim that Burris will never be seated in the actual Senate, even if he shows up with his luggage and a note from his Governor.

(This particular example has nothing to do with lack of experience. It does, however, point out to what lengths the Democrats will go to prove they have a sense of humor after all.)

Now we turn our focus to the New York senate seat currently occupied by Hillary Clinton. Governor Paterson has a smallish problem to deal with. He has both a Kennedy and another Clinton on his hands. One could argue that having former president Billy-Bob Clinton be a "caretaker" for the remainder of his wife's term would be an effective way of keeping him out of Paterson's hair involved in local politics. Or not.

The money seems to be on Caroline Kennedy, the so-called "Camelot Princess." Aside from her famous name, she really has little else to recommend her for the position. She's done all the right posturing, apparently, even dropping her married name so that everyone will remember that she used to live in the White House. But aside from that, not much else to really qualify her to occupy what may become a pivotal Senate seat.

The Senate's famous Democratic majority is already tenuous at best. It is not truly veto-proof, nor did they get the anti-fillibuster insurance they so desperately sought in November, even if Franken weasels and cajoles his way through the interminable Minnesota recount. Having another Kennedy in the Senate for no other reason than to have another Kennedy in the Senate just isn't going to win the Democrats anything.

Kennedy's father was a remarkable man. Whether you agreed with him or not, his visions for moving America forward had a galvanizing effect on the country. But it's been forty-five years since John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and modern history is taking a harder look at the Kennedy mystique. Several generations have arisen since his death and have learned not only about his popularity, but also about his foibles and vices. They understand Kennedys of all stripes to be just as human as the rest of us, and that means that the Kennedy name no longer carries with it the historical imperative that it did back in the days of "Camelot."

Governor Paterson did make one comment worthy of note in this farcical Senate Lotto:
Though Kennedy appears to be the front-runner to replace Clinton, Paterson said the next junior Senator from New York will have to win re-election on his or her own.
And that may prove to be a problem for the Princess.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy (?) New Year!

New look? Of course it's a new look! I get restless every so often, and need to move furniture around, paint the walls, get new carpet... that sort of thing. Naturally this is strictly a virtual exercise for ol' Woody. I've reached that point in life where I much prefer to think about doing such things, and less time actually doing them.

The cretin header has got to go, though. It's a nice design, really, from some Brazilian personage, so far as I can tell. So I had to rename sections into some semblance of English. But the hideous green object at the top of the page is driving me nuts. I am, however, an artistically lazy son of a gun, and I tossed the challenge over to Mrs. Woody. In her youth she had studied graphic design, so I told her what I'm looking for, and she accepted. Please note: hideous green leaf or slice of some exotic fruit: NOT Mrs. Woody. Much classier re-do of the Woody's Woundup header: Mrs. Woody's work. When it becomes available.

This also serves as my official "Happy New Year!" post. Except that I'm not certain just how happy I should wish everyone. Most people seem to be suffering from either economic disaster or post-election depression. The smarmy ones who suffer from neither must be hunted down and made to be as miserable as real humans, I think. With a new Democratic administration coming into power this month, it keeps with Obama's "level playing field" tendencies. No wealth to spread around, though, so we'll just make everyone gloomy and depressed instead.

What's that? You say an "economic stimulus" will be a top Obama priority? That's nice. But I have yet to hear one acceptable explanation as to why making it easier for people who got us into the sub-prime loan debacle by defaulting on their high-risk loans to get newer, higher risk loans is somehow considered a "stimulus?" Wouldn't that seem like simply giving them the keys to "Sub-Prime Debacle 2.0?"

Time will tell. Obama has been doing the body-building thing in Hawaii and seems to be somewhat reluctant to reveal his cards this soon before inauguration day. Just a few months ago he couldn't restrain himself from telling us, in changing and hopeful tones, just how he was planning to keep the economy from tanking. Couldn't shut the guy up, in fact. All of a sudden he gets wise to the "silence is golden" philosophy? I question the timing.

In the meantime, enjoy the new Woundup. I'll still be moving furniture around, dusting some of the higher shelves, and perhaps even moving in some new stuff over the next few days.

Happy (or at least Tolerable) New Year!