Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tom "The Hammer" DeLay Indicted!

So it has finally happened. He was forced to step down (for now anyway), as majority leader. Couldn't have happened to a nastier person. Oh and by the way, Republicans should stop pretending that this is just another partisan attack. They are right when they say that this charge will probably not stick, but only because the burden of proof is for them to prove that DeLay himself knew what was going on and knew it was wrong. Because of the way the law is written, it's a high hurdle to jump. I'm just glad that he's finally being made to squirm.

Roberts was confirmed today. Fine. He's conservative, but at least he doesn't seem like a partisan hack.

Speaking of partisan hacks, did anyone enjoy Michael Brown on the stand in Congress? Hey, nothing is his fault at all! It's all the fault of the local officials he says. Is that what your extensive emergency management experience dictated, Mike? Those political patronage positions are only fun if you don't have to actually do anything, aren't they? Kathleen Blanco on the other hand did not take the bait, and steered almost completely clear of the issue, which was wise. I'm sure she could have done better as well. Brown is already gone though, so he can't possibly bungle anything like that again, though I find it hilarious that he has apparently been tapped as a consultant for FEMA now! Only in the Bush administration. He's loyal to a fault, I'll give him that, even when all evidence and common sense dictates that he should sometimes be otherwise.

Switching tracks to football now...Joe Gibbs has jumped the shark. He is another guy that just makes up his mind to go in one direction, no matter what the evidence dictates. He has Patrick Ramsey, a largely unmolded and untried new talent, (also untrusted, just because his predecessor and not Gibbs himself selected him for the team) and decides that he is finally going to start him. He's in for about a quarter and a half in the opening game and got slightly injured, but was only out for the rest of the game. Brunell was then in and after scoring all of three field goals against a bad team, is named the started. He beat the Cowboys with two touchdowns in the final few minutes of the next game against the Cowboys, but for almost the entire game before that he was just woeful. Now the Jets want Ramsey, but the Redskins won't trade him. Poor guy. The incompetence of the Redskins continues. They are the "home team" for where I live, but the San Francisco 49ers, my favorite team, are looking more competitive this year. They beat the Rams in the opening week, which was great, got blown out by the Eagles, and then last week nearly pulled the upset on the Cowboys. We'll see what the rest of the season brings!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

German Politics

So my German buddy Andi has had some things to say about German politics, and I thought I would chime in. Yes, Andi, to answer your question there has been a fair amount of coverage of it here as well. Just do a search on CNN or a similar one on Fox News or whatever news site you think is "the truth" and you will find plenty of stories on all of them. I also saw some video clips of their speeches after the election, and personally I thought they both looked really silly.

Schröder was going on about the fact that Merkel couldn't form her own government and saying that it meant that people didn't want him out of office, which I found pretty tough to swallow. He also said it was a really resounding vote that they did not want change, which I found insane. His party had after all lost a lot of support, and his party came in second in the polls!

Merkel was making similar overstatements in her speech, claiming a great "mandate" after winning the narrowest of victories (sound like a US president we know?). She may not even end up being chancellor even though her party got more votes than the SPD (sound like a US election we lived through not long ago?). She was pretty much demanding that she be given the chancellorship, even though she knows full well that she is not under any obligation to get it. She seemed pretty obnoxious.

So in short, I found both of them pretty unappealing, at least in their post-election speeches. Interestingly, in German elections, there is not the kind of culture war that we see in the US. Yes, there are differences between the old East and the old West, but that isn't the same thing that we have here between the parties. It seems that in Germany, no politicians from any of the major parties are trying to moralize from a political base, which is very refreshing. It really is all about the economy in Germany. In many ways, I think that should frequently be the over-arching issue. It's kind of like in football or any other sport. When the whole team wins, all of the hotheads on the team pretty much get along. In the same way, people that feel like they have economic opportunity and a decent future don't really feel like being angry at each other as much.

The Euro took a tumble after the election, and Germany seems to be in a pretty deep political crisis. We'll see how things go from here, but so far it looks like a mess. It's Europe's biggest economy and has the largest population of any EU country, so there is a lot riding on this. Let's hope they get this straightened out soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Finally The Story Begins!

Yes, I've been slacking on the blog. No, I haven't been slacking in real life. I've been working hard at work, and last weekend was the aforementioned wedding up in Albany. So here are a couple pictures of the vacation, and of course there will be much more later. I will also be sharing some interesting aspects of Europe that I have noticed from last year's Switzerland trip and this year's Germany/Austria trip. The cities that I visited on this trip were Munich and Hechingen (near Stuttgart, where my American cousin and his German family live) in Germany, and Salzburg and Vienna in Austria. In German, it's actually "München" and "Wien" (pronounced "Veen"), for Munich and Vienna, and the other two are the same in both languages. These first two pictures are from Munich. The first picture is a cute barmaid holding up a couple beers...just kidding. It's actually my cute wife doing that!

We were in the English Garden in Munich, which is a huge, almost Central Park proportioned park. It has fields, trees, a creek winding through it, lots of paths, a restaurant, a Chinese tower where they play live music quite often, some food stands selling pretzels, roasted nuts, and other goodies. Bikers were everywhere. A bunch of people were playing softball. Others were playing with frisbees. There were a couple spots where people were putting on impromptu concerts with bongo drums or xylophones or combinations of instruments, with small crowds of onlookers. We ate outside at the little restaurant there. We had just gotten off the plane shortly before we got there, and we decided to eat at the restaurant. Our waitress was very nice. I spoke a lot of German with her for the first part of the meal, but then she went over to English when she started talking about the lederhosen-clad musicians in the tower that they played a lot of American tunes. I had some sort of cut of steak with dried onions and a type of brown sauce on it I believe. Chris got the apple strudel for dessert, which I had a few bites of as well. It was incredible! It was served as a big thick slice in a bowl of vanilla pudding sauce. Best apple strudel I ever had, and to be honest I might have to include apple pie in that too! I should have gotten one for myself, but I knew there would be other opportunities. It's Germany's version of apple pie, a folk favorite, and they have it almost everywhere. Of course, I think Austrians claim to have invented it, but that's another story. They also claim to have invented the croissant. Who knows, maybe they did?

Anyway, the next day we had the world famous Hofbräuhaus beer hall high on the list of things to see. While we were finding things to do before dinner, we happened upon the Jagd und Fischerei Museum (Hunting and Fishing Museum), which had lots of stuffed animals of all kinds, and no, not beanie babies. These were all hunted and fished animals, and there was also quite an impressive collection of old rifles used by the gentry of the time, with fancy inlay patterns on the stocks and everything. The old sleighs were also pretty neat. I have pictures of those too, but for now here is a picture of me outside the museum with a bronze boar. More to come!

Friday, September 09, 2005

YES, There Are Vacation Pics And Stories Coming!

I know, it been several days now and nothing about the Germany and Austria vacation. It's been a very busy short week at work, and now I get on a plane to Albany in a few hours for a wedding in Saratoga Springs. So there are no pictures yet until Sunday. Then again, that's the first day of football season. VERY soon, OK?