Archive for January, 2010

Weekend Wrapup For The End Of January

Posted in Entertainment, Movies, NBA Basketball, Sports, The Wrapups with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2010 by thelasthonestman

My look at the Saints impact on New Orleans will be up on Monday, as well as my predictions for the Super Bowl.  Until then, some tidbits from the week that was:

–The news of actress Brittany Murphy’s death at the tender age of just 32, just before Christmas on December 20, was sad enough.  Now that tragedy is being compounded by misdirected anger and blame – or at the worst — greed — from family members in the wake of Murphy’s death, as the latest report is that the late actress’ husband and mother blame Warner Brothers for her death — and they’re prepared to sue the studio over it.

The official cause of death has yet to be released, pending toxicology reports.  However, Murphy ‘s husband Simon Monjack is claiming that her death from cardiac arrest is a result of stress from being released by Warner Brothers from the sequel to the animated film Happy Feet two weeks beforehand.  It’s a belief that is apparently being supported by Murphy’s mother Sharon — and Monjack is apparently planning to file a wrongful-death suit against the studio.

While I empathize completely with Murphy’s husband and mother — the loss they’re feeling is no doubt unimaginable — a frivolous lawsuit isn’t the way to deal with their grief.  Actors and actresses are replaced in roles by studios on a daily basis, and the world of Hollywood is ripe with stressful situations — that’s simply part of the business.  Losing a job definitely causes untold amounts of stress — but it’s not something that can or should be used as a reason to go to court.  Millions of Americans lost their jobs in the last several years — jobs that represented their entire livelihoods — and some of them certainly suffered physically from the stress involved.  They’re not all looking to sue their former employers — nor should they be.  This is a lawsuit that hopefully never gets filed — or if it does, hopefully it gets tossed quickly out of court where it belongs.

— Things I won’t be typing into my Google search anytime soon?  How about the phrase “Greg Oden’s junk”?

"Now with AT&T, you can get more coverage than ... Holy Crap! That's a picture of a fifty year-old, injured center's junk!"

The second-year and often-injured Portland center apologized yesterday for the nude photos of him and his … errr … manhood that are circulating around the internet as we speak.  Apparently, the photos were self-taken by Oden with a cell phone and sent by him to an now ex-girlfriend a little under two years ago.  Apparently, when you’re spending more time rehabbing injuries off the court than actually playing on it, there’s a wealth of time to kill.

My only question is this:  when are people who are famous going to learn to stop taking pictures (or videotapes) of themselves in compromising or embarrassing situations?  If the numerous sex tapes and nude photos of celebrities, even minor ones, that have circulated over the web over the years should tell you anything, it’s that if you take a picture of yourself naked it will end up on the Internet at some point.  That’s just a simple fact.  So to all aspiring actors and actresses, sports stars, and the like — it’s real easy to keep yourself out of these situations — and that’s to keep your private lives (and privates) really private and without a permanent record of some type that’s waiting to be leaked (unless you’re Scarlett Johansson, in which case I implore you to leak away).

Hopefully Oden can put this behind him and get back to more important matters at hand — which is being the second coming of Sam Bowie to Kevin Durant’s Michael Jordan.

— This week, James Cameron’s latest film Avatar reached some pretty elite company as it became the highest-grossing film at the worldwide box office ever and poised itself to take over the all-time domestic box office crown as well (which would put it in front of another Cameron epic, Titanic) (though those numbers are highly inflated by today’s higher ticket prices in comparison to, let’s say, Gone With The Wind).  It’s spent seven consecutive weeks as the number one film in the country, and it shows no sign of slowing down at the ticket windows.

So what am I missing here?

I may be one of the few people left who hasn’t seen the movie so far — which is something unusual for me, since I’m both a fan of a good science-fiction tale as well as for Cameron’s past films.  And yet, not only have I not seen Avatar — I haven’t really been possessed by a desire to see it.  I’m much more excited about the prospects of seeing Iron Man 2 this summer, and even when I did find my way to the theater on New Year’s Eve, my movie of choice (with tickets to Avatar available) was Sherlock Holmes instead (a box office success in its own right, and a film I enjoyed immensely,as I seem to enjoy everything that Robert Downey, Jr. does lately).

When the previews for Avatar were flooding the airwaves … well, what can I say?  I thought they looked interesting, but they just didn’t scream out “Must see this immediately” — to me, at least.  Apparently, I’ve been alone in that thinking, and that’s left me wondering whether I dropped the ball on checking this out.  The good news is for me, however, that if I want to see it in the theater, I’ll still have my chance for a while.

Great Speeches And A Dime Still Won’t Buy You A Cup Of Coffee — Or Much Else

Posted in News/Current Events, Politics, Rants with tags , , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Last night was President Obama’s State of the Union Speech, only a week after the upset Republican win in Massachusetts.  There was a great deal of intrigue as to how much that shocking loss for the Democrats would factor in to what the President would tell the nation and Congress, as well as how Obama would tailor his speech to his increasingly skeptical audience — polls taken in recent weeks have shown a rising number of Americans who see the country as continuing to head down the wrong path, who see the President’s health care plan as doing more harm than good, and who distrust anything and everything that comes out of Washington.  Certainly, Obama was going to be speaking to a tough crowd Wednesday night.

When it was over, if he did nothing else, the President gave a good speech last night — from someone who’s proven himself as a master orator, anything else would have been a shock.  But the problem is, what we heard from Obama last night was just words — and pretty speeches and a charismatic President (who is still holding onto a 50% approval rating despite the nation’s building anger with its government in Washington) isn’t going to get the country headed in the right direction.  What’s needed is a change in attitude and action in our Capitol — and there’s been more than enough evidence that such a change still isn’t anywhere to be seen.

At least the President acknowledged last night that, so far as the mantra of “change” that he campaigned on (and which was a large part of the winds that swept him into office), his first year in office has been a disappointment to many, both his initial supporters and his detractors.   “I campaigned on the promise of change — change we can believe in, the slogan went,” Obama said last night. “And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren’t sure if they still believe we can change — or at least, that I can deliver it.”

Of course much of the American people don’t — the last year in Washington has seen more of the same, with politicians from both sides of the aisle continuing to work to further the interests of themselves and their biggest contributors and lobbyists, while ignoring the real problems with our nation that are in dire need of attention.   The richest of those on Wall Street and the banking industry lined up to use the American public as their personal ATM, and no real changes in the way these giant institutions have been enacted to prevent a repeat of the excesses of avarice that saw our economy badly weakened.

More and more Americans find themselves at risk of spending their day in the unemployment line

Meanwhile, other businesses small and large continue to struggle in an economy that’s seen more and more Americans put out of work and tumble helplessly into debt as our economy has continued to stagnate.  Health care “reform” looks more and more like a bloated enterprise that might raise costs, still leave millions uninsured, and mostly benefit the insurance and drug companies — while aiding in ballooning our dangerously high national debt to even more obscene levels.  And one of his main promises from last night, echoing a campaign pledge — to do the work of government in the open and eschew the back room deals of the past — has been trampled into the ground from Day One, particularly in the aforementioned health care reform, where secret deals have already been made with the elements most responsible for the ballooning cost of medicine today.  Is there any wonder why people are suffering from what the President called a ‘deficit of trust’?

The biggest problem — both immediate and long-term — that the nation faces is the alarmingly high deficit we’re running, a deficit that ballooned to dangerous levels during the two terms of President Bush and has only increased — dramatically so — in the first year of the Obama presidency.  The United States simply can’t continue to write checks it can’t cover, and in that area the President seemed to acknowledge last night that changes needed to be made.  But his solutions — a proposed three-year freeze on government spending, other than in national security, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — is akin to using a measuring cup to bail out the flooded compartments on the Titanic.  This would represent next to nothing in actual savings — what needs to be done is a painful combination of cutting government spending nearly across the board and raised taxes, the former being much easier said than done (if we can’t afford it, we simply shouldn’t be funding it — but many programs that would likely be facing a trimmed budget or even the axe get their support from the majority of the Democrats on Capital Hill) and the latter a tricky proposition in a stalling economy (the best approach in this  would appear to be raised taxes on individuals making $250,000 and higher, while leaving lower incomes and businesses untouched, but this common-sense approach has continuously drawn opposition from oblivious Republicans).

The sad fact is that the current quagmires we find ourselves in are a result of the inattention, the failings, and the flat-out corruption at a federal level by representatives in both our national parties.  The old saying is that it takes two to tango, and that’s definitely true when it comes to fixing this mess — both parties are going to have to work together, make hard choices and sacrifices — and if necessary, sacrifice their own political capital and political futures to enact the measures we need to safeguard our country’s future, and with it, the futures of those who come after us.  It’s in this last regard that, all the inspiring speeches about hope and change in Washington aside, things have disappointingly stayed the same.  Time will tell if our nation’s lawmakers will finally decide to do the job we elected them to do, or if we’ll all be back here in another year, wowed by individual eloquence — but failed by our leaders as a whole.

Happy Birthday To The Last Honest Man — Sort Of

Posted in Personal with tags , on January 27, 2010 by thelasthonestman

It just came to me today that this blog has been up, running and (mostly) active for more than a year now.  Break out the cake, ice cream, and those trick candles you can’t blow out — and let’s celebrate!

We’re at 150-plus posts and going strong, with increased traffic, particularly in the last month or so — so if you’re new here, I bid you a heart welcome!  Don’t be afraid to comment in any of the threads — I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.  Just remember to check out the Posting and Comment policies before doing so.  Also, a reminder that,  if you’d like to see something specific discussed here on the site, feel free to e-mail me at thelasthonestman@ymail.com and I’ll do what I can to talk about it.

In the upcoming year, I’m looking forward to continuing my look into the political scene, world events, the sporting world, and the world of entertainment, all while providing my own form of social commentary and sometimes brutal honesty about the world we live in — all while juggling my other writing projects and the rest of a busy life.  It’s been a blast so far this first year, and I hope that the second one is even better.  For those of you who’ve been stopping by since the beginning, I appreciate it — and if you’re new, I’m glad you’ve gotten aboard for the ride.

Abandoned By Their Owners

Posted in Personal, Rants with tags , , on January 26, 2010 by thelasthonestman

I could never abandon this adorable face -- could you?

How many of you would like to be taken from your homes in the middle of the night, driven to a strange location far away from what’s familiar to you, and then abandoned — left without food, water, shelter, or anyone to help you survive?  That would be unimaginable, right?

Yet right now, around the country, that’s exactly what’s happening with a number of animals whose owners, many of whom are facing financial worries, are abandoning them in droves.  It’s estimated that the number of animals at risk of being left without a home may number as high as 500,000 to 1,000,000 in number.

I’ve seen it firsthand — whether it’s been in the stray dogs, many of which look well-groomed and healthy but without collars or tags, who’ve wandered into my own yard, or the stories I’ve heard from my parents, whose own neighborhood has seemingly become a popular drop-off point in the area for dogs and cats (according to my mother, animals have been abandoned in front of their own home in drive-by drop-offs no less than three or four times just in the last month).

In these tougher economic times, caring for a pet is increasingly difficult — something I also have plenty of experience with, owning four dogs of my own (one of which is elderly and has needed a great deal of veterinary care in the last year).  Vet bills, shots and vaccinations, and even pet food are all very expensive, and the bills for my dogs have a tendency to add up.  But even though I can sympathize with those who are finding trouble keeping their finances in check, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving my dogs alone and scared in a strange place.  It’s absolutely inconceivable to me.

Yet, that’s what’s been happening around the country.  My plea is for it to stop, and if anyone reading this has a pet of any type that they can’t afford to take care of anymore — for God’s sake, please look for another home for it first.  Whether it’s a neighbor, a friend, or a family member — there’s no shortage of people around who will be willing to take care of your pet.  And if that fails, there are rescue centers that will take the pet as well.  Don’t leave them out there alone to suffer, to starve, and to die — put yourself in their place, and it’s easy to see that there’s always a better solution.

Monday Musings After A Wild NFL Finish

Posted in NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on January 25, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Later this week, I’ll have a closer look at the Saints victory last night in the NFC title game — not the game so much as  what it means to the city and to the area as a whole.  But until then, some brief thoughts from yesterday’s action:

— New Orleans’ win over the Vikings was a strange one in a number of ways.  Minnesota’s total yards gained versus New Orleans’ total represented the biggest offensive disparity seen in an NFC title game where the team on top lost — though when you turn the ball over five time, it’s tough to beat even the worst NFL teams, never mind the team that recorded the best record in the conference.

Both teams seemed to be feeling their nerves at different points in the game, as players on both sides had increasing trouble holding onto the football as the game progressed.  There were the two costly Petersen fumbles — the one with the Vikings in the red zone after the huge Bush fumble just before the end of the first half being the most costly.  New Orleans players other than Bush also seemed to be suffering from the jitters, evident by the normally sure-handed Marques Colston having a potential huge gainer slip through his fingers on the final drive, and Robert Meachem juggling his huge reception as well (though unlike Colston, he hung on).  The one player whose nerves didn’t seem to be an issue was Saints kicker Garrett Hartley — who was suspended for the first four games of the season and hadn’t made a field goal of 40 yards or longer all season — who calmly booted the biggest field goal of his life and in franchise history through the uprights.

New Orleans’ defense bent all day, but it ultimately didn’t break, as they forced turnovers at the most opportune moments, none more so than the interception at the end of regulation.  Lost in Favre’s interception was the 12 men in the huddle penalty the play before, which pushed the Vikings just beyond kicker Ryan Longwell’s range.  Before that penalty, Minnesota likely would have run the ball, leaving Longwell a 45-50 yard kick to win the game as time expired, certainly a makable field goal for the veteran.  Instead, Favre was passing on that crucial last Vikings play — and as predicted here, for that one moment we saw the old gunslinging Favre return, as he threw an ill-advised pass across his body that was easily intercepted, effectively ending Minnesota’s season.

In Favre’s defense, he showed a great deal of courage all night, as New Orleans hammered him all game.  After his first interception and the crushing hit he took on the play, I thought we might have seen the last of Favre, as Tavaris Jackson began to loosen up on the sidelines (either that, or he was looking for his helmet — did the Vikings even pack Jackson’s gear for the trip?).  But the old man’s fortitude has never been questioned throughout his career, and Favre gamely played the remainder of the contest, likely in tremendous pain until the final moments.

The Saints’ defensive pressure — which started to show fruit in the second quarter — resulted in a lot of hurried throws by the Minnesota quarterback, and the tone of the game subtly changed at that point.  Even through New Orleans’ defense never actually sacked Favre, their pressure was key to the team’s victory — as doing the same against Manning in two weeks it will be vital if they’re to win again in Miami.

He's been the best option in the backfield for the Saints all season -- and Sean Payton looks like he may have realized it

And lastly, Pierre Thomas was a huge weapon in the game, and no two bigger plays in his season were there than his kickoff return to start off overtime and his leaping dive for a first down on 4th and short on the final drive.  For most of the season, Payton has mysteriously underused Thomas all season, preferring to go with the ineffective Mike Bell (who I think I saw with the “Have you seen me?” tag on the side of a milk carton last night), Bush (who is many things, but a short-yardage back is not one of them) and even Lynell Hamilton.  Thomas has found himself on the sidelines particularly in short-yardage situations (despite the fact that Thomas has shown numerous times over the year to be a bruising, powerful runner himself).  Indeed, earlier in the game, the Saints failed to convert two 3rd and 1 opportunities, as Hamilton and Bush were both stuffed for losses.  However, Payton might have finally learned his lesson. and it was Thomas in the game at the end on short-yardage situations on which the team’s whole season was riding.  Thomas may be overlooked as we head to the big game, but he gives New Orleans a running threat that, frankly, the Colts just don’t have.

— Which leads us to the Colts-Jets contest.  For a half, it was exactly that — a contest — as the Jets were actually putting points up on the board and, except for a drive by Manning and company at the end of the half, stifling the Colts offense.  But the injury to Shonn Greene and Manning’s brilliance in figuring out how to exploit the Jets’ defensive schemes marked the beginning of the end of New York’s remarkable playoff run.

There’s not a lot for me to really say about this game; despite the Jets’ two upset victories, there were still a 9-7 team with a rookie quarterback that would have represented one of the most unlikely Super Bowl teams in history if they’d managed to actually win.  For all of the vaunted strength in the AFC we heard about all season, we didn’t see it in the playoffs, as the Colts road to Miami went through two teams who were badly flawed and who were, arguably, worse than any of the teams who made it to the dance in the NFC.  I predicted a Colts victory yesterday because it was hard to imagine anything but that happening — but it’s hard to be terribly impressed with a team doing exactly what it was supposed to do.

While watching the game yesterday, I referred to the Colts execution as robotic, mechanical, and … dare I say it … boring.  Watching the Colts beat the Ravens and Jets was about as thrilling for me as watching the T-1000 from T2 hunt down normal civilians — we’ll all know a lot more about the Colts when they get to face their version of Sarah Connor in Miami.

A moment in yesterday’s game that for me represented what these Colts are all about (and that has been forgotten already since Indy won, and it ended up not mattering) was the call of Coach Caldwell when the Colts faced a 4th and goal from the 1 in the first half, trailing 7-3.  You’re at home, you’re facing a team that’s not your equal, you have a ton of offensive weapons and arguably the greatest quarterback of all time, and even if you try and fail, you’ve backed up a  rookie quarterback into his own end zone — the obvious call here is to go for it, right?  Yet Caldwell meekly sent out the field goal unit instead.  If the Jets had won, this would have been the turning point of the game — as it stands, even in victory, it’s reminder of the Colts “afraid to lose” mentality that showed in their late-season tank job to avoid injury (unlikely as that possibility might have been) and to forgo the immortality that beckoned them.  That type of over-the-top conservatism — something that New Orleans has not exhibited all season — could well come up and bite them in two weeks.

NFL Conference Title Game Picks — In 50 Minutes Or Less

Posted in NFL Football, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2010 by thelasthonestman

So yesterday my picks for AFC and NFC Championship games were delayed by my ire at the state of the political system in our country — but no problem since both games aren’t until Sunday, right?  I figured that I’d just knock out my selections at some point today and that would be that.

I've been so money, you didn't even know it

But hold on there!  After complaining about the state of my home renovation only days ago, my father-in-law beat back the nasty virus that had laid him up for most of the last two weeks — and lo and behold, he was here today bright and early to work on the house with me.  While this was awesome news personally, it always served to delay my picks again.

Which leaves us now, past 7 o’clock Central, and still I had nothing ready to post.  So as I popped my dinner in the oven, I decided it was now or never to get my official predictions down for the record — and why wouldn’t I want to do that, since I’ve been nothing but money so far (with my 2-6 mark)?

So it’s me against the oven timer — 50 minutes (or less now) to get this posted.  When the timer says the food’s done, then so am I.  I figure that deep, thoughtful analysis has gotten absolutely nowhere so far — so let’s go with something different with this week’s selections.  The word of the day: Karma.

Indianapolis (-8) over N.Y Jets

Here’s the problem:  I want the Colts to lose.  I want them to lose along the levels that I used to root for the Lakers to lose in the heyday of Showtime, and the way I root for the Yankees to lose every time they set foot on the field.  I want them to lose because I think they deserve to after the way they gave the middle finger to history, to greatness, to the Indy fans, and the spirit of competitive sports everywhere by throwing the last two games of their regular season so completely, I had to check the sidelines to make sure I didn’t see Eddie Cicotte and Chick Gandal’s ghosts wearing officially licensed Colts apparel.

The problem is, it wasn’t supposed to be the Jets here — it was supposed to be the Chargers, who I had 100% confidence in being able to send Indy home where they belong.  But it’s the Jets instead, and I know there’s no way Mark Sanchez is going to be able to lead his team to the Super Bowl; even with all of the improbable things I’ve seen over the years, that possibility might top them all.

Yet ….

If anyone can give the Colts problems, it’s the Jets — they’ve got the great defense, the ability to pressure the quarterback, and Darrelle Revis to make life miserable for Reggie Wayne.   They can run the ball — something the Colts cannot do effectively — and they’re definitely feeling the “We’re a team of destiny” mojo right now.  How do you pick against that?

You pick against it because there’s no better quarterback in the game right now than Peyton Manning, and the Colts are frankly, better than the Jets are.  As much as I hate to see it, the Colts are going to pressure Sanchez into mistakes and Manning will capitalize on them.  The Colts should win this one easily.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies -- except hopefully the Colts Super Bowl run

Except …

The Colts still have the stink of their finish, and the bad karma that came with it, surrounding them.  There would be no better justice in the world than to have the team their tank-job let into the playoffs be the one to knock them out.  If nothing else, the way this postseason has gone, my picking the Colts might be enough to derail their chances.

I can hope.

New Orleans (-3.5) over Minnesota

And  since we’re on the subject of karma — both good and bad — there’s plenty of it to go around in the second half of Sunday’s doubleheader.  There’s the good karma that would be associated with seeing the Saints make their first Super Bowl, barely five years after the city of New Orleans was crippled by Hurricane Katrina and it looked like their football team would soon be calling another city home.  There may be no city in the NFL that loves their team the way the people in the Big Easy do — and there are few fan bases in the league who’ve had more seasons with absolutely nothing to show for it than the New Orleans faithful.  Something about the Saints making the Big Game just feels right.

On the other hand, the Vikings rang up all kinds of bad karma by running up the score on Dallas last week, throwing the ball while under the two minute warning and up by three scores (and while I’m the furthest thing from a Cowboys fan, that’s exactly what it was — running up the score).  There’s also the bad karma associated with a number of elements of the whole Brett Favre saga — the way he ended his season with the Jets last year, the way he squirmed his way into Minnesota after his 8,000th “retirement”, the whole “I’m really the coach here” aura he projected during his flare up with Brad Childress.  While I won’t deny that there’s a lot to like about Favre’s improbable return to the precipice of another Super Bowl, there’s a lot I didn’t like and would hate to see rewarded.  Perhaps the football gods agree — star rookie receiver Percy Harvin has seen a return of his migraines and might be in trouble for Sunday’s contest.

The Saints’ biggest weakness all season has been defending the run, and that could lead to a nightmare match-up here with Adrian Peterson lining up against them.  Except that Minnesota has largely eschewed the run down the stretch — for better or worse, they’re Favre’s team now, and they’ll go as far as he can take them.

Will Sunday be the last time Brett Favre takes off his helmet in the NFL?

I’ve been waiting all season for a return of  “Classic” Favre — the Favre who’ll throws the ball when and where he shouldn’t, leading to a flurry of turnovers and a loss — and I’ve got a gut feeling that we’ll see that Favre finally rear his ugly head tomorrow in the Superdome.  New Orleans has an aggressive, opportunistic defense that can made Favre pay dearly if he shows bad judgement with the football.  If the Saints can jump out ahead early (and force Peterson out of the game plan even more), then we could see the gunslinging quarterback that Minnesota fans have secretly feared seeing all season.

And that’s what I think we will see.  I’m going with New Orleans in this one — and crossing my fingers as a resident of the area that I’m not jinxing them with the pick.  And just in time — the oven timer’s calling, and my dinner awaits.   Now all that remains is to see if this picking  strategy works any better than what the debacle of the last two weeks — for certain, I won’t do any worse.

For Sale To The Highest Bidder: Your Government

Posted in News/Current Events, Politics, Rants with tags , , , , , , on January 22, 2010 by thelasthonestman

Yesterday, the way candidates are elected in the U.S. was changed as the Supreme Court struck down the part of the McCain-Feingold Act — as well as other federal laws that had been in place for decades — which limited the amount of money that could be poured into campaigns by both business corporations and other heavily-influential groups like labor unions.  The Court’s ruling was made on the grounds that limits that have been imposed by laws such as the McCain-Feingold Act are unconstitutional.

This is nothing but bad news for the political process, which is rife with corruption and self-serving politicians already.  We already have a Congress filled with the best Senators and Representatives that money can buy, and this ruling is only going to exacerbate that problem.  Everyone regardless of their political leanings should be worried about what this ruling will mean for the future, as we already have a Congress who’s leaned heavily towards favoring the same huge institutions — Wall Street, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, for example — who have not only caused a large number of the problems we’ve seen in the past decade (the bailout fiasco, the health care problem), but who will now be able to pay whatever it takes to see that any solutions that are decided upon in the future aid them first and foremost.

What’s badly needed is a campaign system that would bar donations of all kinds for political candidates at all levels of office (right down to your local officials), whether they came from individuals, groups, or corporations — and public financing for all political campaigns that would be set a pre-determined amount.  If a candidate spends that money, then they’re just out of luck.  Before anyone hedges at the idea of their tax money going towards the election process, it might help to remember that you’re already paying for that process, in the form of bloated governments that are great at wasting the money they’re given by the American people, but completely incompetent when it comes to finding basic solutions for basic problems (an character trait that affects your local, as well as state and federal, officials).

One of the great embarrassments we in our country should feel is the fact that, with all of our great riches, we waste such a ridiculous amount of resources every year in the electoral process.  This waste takes many forms: expensive dinners for supporters, lavishly decorated halls filled with banners and balloons for rallies, limos and buses and aircraft to carry bloated staffs during campaigning, and of course, all of that advertising.  Ads upon ads, almost always negative attack ads that have little to do with the real issues at hands,  that filled the airwaves of both television and radio.

Millions of people go hungry every year -- yet we're giving hundreds of millions of dollars to politicians so that they can use their influence to line their own pockets and that of their friends. Anyone besides me see the problem here?

In the 2008 presidential election, for example, the three main contenders (Obama, McCain, and Clinton) and spent in excess of $250 million on their campaigns, and that was only by January.  And we’re not even taking into account all of the money spend on the rest of the candidates, or all of the state and local elections that take place around the country every year.  Can anyone honestly explain how the huge, obscene amounts of money being spent on campaigning for political office in this country has helped the process?  Or explain how it’s made our entire political system (or our government) better and not worse? Look around — do you feel like it’s been money well spent?

A far better use of that money than spending it on the corrupted political process would be to feed the hungry, aid the poor, or take care of the sick and disadvantaged in this country, just for starters.  Instead, we throw away money to candidates who go through it like water — and laugh all the way to the bank as they more often than not use their positions of power as an ATM for their political supporters.

If we sharply limited the amounts of money spent on the election campaign process in general, and combined that with public financing only for all elections — local, state, and federal — then we might be left with a system where candidates who give intelligent solutions to our country’s complex problems might actually get elected, instead of us watching the current system where candidates get elected because they ran the most effective attack ad, or because they got the largest donations from the biggest political action group or corporation, or because they made the most under-the-table deals take care of their supporters’ special interests once they get into office.

That kind of radical change, unfortunately, will sadly, likely never happen.  If there’s anything you could get both of our current parties to agree upon, it would be to strike down a movement like this before it could ever get itself started, as real campaign and fund-raising reform would be a definitive threat to the livelihoods and tenure of those currently in office.  And if the Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday suggests anything, its that the way we elect our officials in the future — and in turn, the fates of the average citizen like you and I — is only going to get far worse and not better.