21 January 2010

Politicians And Numbers

In an unprecedented moment of honesty, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells reporters how many votes in the House she has in support of the Obamacare bill and says that the Senate needs to fix it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was reported as replying, "I have a vote for Speaker Pelosi right here." Regrettably, the accompanying picture could not be published.

(Picture taken from this news story.)

19 January 2010

What Is A "Superfan"?

This guy is a Superfan. This guy is a Superfan. This gal is a Superfan.

But this guy is not.

I'm not alone in this belief. Many people think that Spaceman (because I refuse to assign him any name that refers to the team) is nothing more than an attention-grubbing idiot. Some people disagree. And I suppose it is their right to do so.

But they're wrong.

What sets Spaceman apart from Horn Guy, Goat, and Screaming Mimi is that his shtick has absolutely nothing to do with the Washington Capitals. In fact, until The Washington Post did that little blurb on him, there was nothing Caps related to him. Now his Post-appointed name adorns the back of his space suit. Thanks, Steinberg. Additionally, the Superfans are Superfans because they are in the forefront of audience participation during the games. They scream louder. They lead chants. They rile the crowd up.

Spaceman? He stands and pantomimes life in space.

Exciting, huh?

Don't get me wrong. I like that the Verizon Center is full during Caps games. I love that people are so excited about this team that they can't contain it. I think it's fantastic to see this once-sleepy-non-hockey town turn into a place where no one wants to come play. Verizon Center rocks at home Caps games the way that RFK Stadium used to rock at home Redskins games. Yes, faithful readers, it's like that now.

But I don't see the point in putting on a Halloween costume that has nothing to do with the team and suddenly declare yourself a Superfan. You want to play dress up? Fine. Get yourself one of these, one of these, one of these, and/or one of these and alter it to fit the associated player. Until then, sit down and take that stupid helmet off.

12 January 2010

In Today's News

The United States has a new nation's capital ... of capitalism: David Frum opines on how the financial power of the world's greatest country has shifted from New York to the District.
But as Washington gains, the country loses. It loses something more than its ideals of free enterprise and private ownership. It loses the very American idea of a capital as a specialized locale to which specific tasks are delegated -- not an American Versailles where favors are distributed and attendance is mandatory.
While I agree that the federal government should never be in the business of business, Mr. Frum is a fool to imply that, at least over the past century, it hasn't been the ultimate decision-maker of financial dealings in this country. That the rest of the free-market movers and shakers have finally discovered this was bound to happen.

District metered parking will cost you $2 an hour ... or not: The city is looking at implementing a performance-based parking system.
The District is raising rates at most of the city's 17,000 meters to $2 an hour, expanding enforcement until 10 p.m. in eight "premium demand zones" and enforcing meter parking on Saturdays. The changes are expected to generate up to $7 million a year in additional revenue for the cash-strapped city.
The DDOT may succeed in changing people's commuting behavior. It just might not be the change for which they were hoping. I suspect that we'll start seeing this practiced more.

Washington Capitals to the rest of the Southeast Division - "Who's your daddy?": My Caps are 9-1 against its Southeast rivals, holding a 16 point lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Lightning (who they've defeated 12 straight times). Additionally, they're only 3 points off the lead in the Eastern Conference and 6 points off the lead in the league. With 38 games remaining in the season and with the return of several key members from injured reserve, expect to see them climb the leader board as the season progresses. A run for the Stanley Cup isn't out of the question, so long as the solid defense they've been playing lately doesn't waver.

11 January 2010

Paper Or Plastic?

As you may, or may not, know, the new year has seen a new tax levied on the people of Washington, D.C. The purpose of this new tax is noble enough (to clean up the Anacostia River) but it is completely misguided and in all likelihood, like all other monies raised by government, will not be used for its intended purpose.

First, let's clear some things up. As stated in the legislation, this new tax was imposed
[t]o protect the aquatic and environmental assets of the District of Columbia; to ban the use of disposable non-recyclable plastic carryout bags; to establish a fee on all other disposable carryout bags provided by grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, restaurants, and food vendors; to give the Mayor the authority to implement rules and procedures to collect the fee; to establish a non-lapsing recurring Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Fund.
Got that? Non-recyclable plastic bags are now banned in the District. A new tax is levied on consumers. The mayor (and apparently, the mayor alone) enforces the rules on tax collection. And a "fund" is created to capture the monies raised by this new tax.

Second, this new tax will be carried out at retail establishments. What exactly is meant by "retail establishments", you ask? Well ...
"Retail Establishment" means any licensee under a Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Basic Business License category Public Health: Food Establishment Retail (D.C. Official Code Sec. § 47-2851.03(10)(J)) license or under an Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration off-premises retailer’s license, class A or B.
In other words, you will be taxed at any place that sells food or alcohol. Grocery stores? Check. Liquor stores? Check. Big-box stores? Check. Movie rental stores? Check. Take-outs? Check. Convenience stores? Check. Even restaurants doggie bags are taxed. Do you see the enormity of this new tax?

And let's not forget that you're already being charged for these bags by the stores in the first place. So you're paying for these bags twice. And you get no refunds or price breaks for bringing your own bags.

Big whoop, Diarist. I'll just go to Maryland or Virginia for my shopping needs.

Not so fast there, bub.
Maryland and Virginia lawmakers say they will push for 5-cent fees on disposable paper and plastic bags at stores, after the District this month became the first major city in the nation to impose such a fee.
The reasoning behind this, like the District, is for purely environmental reasons. Maryland and Virginia, like the District, want to do better by Mother Earth and need the money to do so. All good and fine.

Except history has shown us that lawmakers rarely spend money for what it was originally set aside (see Medicare/Medicaid, road tolls, gas taxes, et cetera). And in this present economy I understand that governments are financially hurting, but the people are hurting more. Five cents (per bag) might not be a big deal to our council members yet it is a big deal to the residents in our poorer neighborhoods.

And, let's be totally candid about this. This will do nothing to improve the well-being of the Anacostia River. I suppose that it is within the realm of reason that the District will actually spend all of the money raised by this new tax on cleaning up the Eastern Branch. But the Anacostia doesn't reside solely in the District ... its origins are in Montgomery and Price Georges Counties, Maryland. Good luck trying to get all of those various jurisdictions to play nice. Even if D.C. gets its act together and does its part, it will still have to continually clean up Maryland's mess as it floats downstream. Not to mention all of the creeks, wetlands, parks, sewer drains, and so forth that feed and support the Anacostia

Make no mistake. This is an impossible fight on which the city is embarking. It will take more than just money to fix ... it will take a total attitude adjustment of the people. And a new tax ain't the solution to that problem.

06 January 2010

Sports Happenings

I know I'm a bit behind on the chatter here but I wanted to share my thoughts on these stories.
  1. Washington Redskins - Some might think that the story is this, this, or maybe even this. Those people would be wrong. The real story is behind the scenes.

    Here's my take. Clinton Portis needs to go. Yes, there were seasons when he almost literally carried this team on his back. But past performance doesn't give anyone a license to skate by, especially in the NFL. It certainly doesn't give you license to shoot your mouth off on a radio program. You have a problem with your coach? Talk to your coach about it behind closed doors. You have a problem with your teammates? Talk to your teammates in the locker room. Don't do it publicly. He has become a canker in the locker room and has lost the respect of many of the veteran players. He doesn't produce on the field. He doesn't inspire on the sideline. He doesn't lead in practice. Hell, he doesn't even show up to practice! Sorry, dude, but I think you're done. I'm hoping that one of Coach Shanahan's first moves is to trade Portis.

  2. Washington Wizards - If there are two things I know about the next owner of this franchise, they are the following: he knows how to build a long-term winning team and he won't allow his players to embarrass his team. Odds are that this NBA off-season will see the Wizards go through a change like the Capitals did during the 2004 NHL season lockout ... he will make sure he has front office people who know basketball and they will blow this team up and start building toward a team that will be perennial playoff contenders. Quite frankly, for as much pain as that will bring in the immediate future, it will be the best thing to happen to Wizard fans since they last won the NBA title. Trust me on this, because it leads me to ...

  3. Washington Capitals - I love my Caps. And I love Ted Leonsis. This is an owner who gets it. He respects his fans. He respects the tradition of hockey. And he respects his players. He is every bit as passionate about bringing the championship title to DC as a certain other major league team owner; but, unlike said other owner, he knows what is necessary and required of him to accomplish that. But that's not what I wanted to say about my Caps. What I wanted to say was that, seven days after trading their team captain to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team finally decided on a new captain. I was too in shock last night to appreciate the choice. But after having some time to sleep on it, I think it was the right one. Firstly, Ovechkin is going to be here for a very long time, quite possibly for his entire career. Secondly, he has been a leader and always gives his all on the ice. Thirdly, well, there's this ...
    "I had talked to a lot of [players] the last couple of days and they said Alex is the only choice," [Coach Bruce] Boudreau said. "He's our leader, he's our guy. What shows he was ready was when I talked to him two or three days ago, he said he would accept the responsibility but 'only if my teammates want it.' He was already thinking about the team instead of himself, which is what captains do."
    Congratulations, Ovie, on the captaincy. And congratulations, Caps, for getting a quality captain.

04 January 2010

A New Year - A New Start

Looking over my posts from the previous year, I've noticed that I didn't post a lot of much substance. So one of my resolutions for this year is to get back to that - being more active on my blog and making substantive posts about what's going on, both in this fair city of ours and in my own personal life. You'll see me rant more about our city government. You'll see me talk about our professional sports teams. You'll see me review television shows and movies I've seen. You'll see me ... well, I think you get the idea.

But I'd like a resolution from you, my faithful (and also perhaps new) readers, as well. I'd like you to resolve to make this blog more of a conversation. I am just as interested in what you have to say as you are in what I have to say. Don't be afraid to comment. We can have a back and forth on things, you and I and even amongst yourselves. One of the things I've always wanted for this site was for it to be like a cyber-water cooler.

So what do you say? Wanna haffa go at it?