SosaMcGwire_thumb_1Howard Bryant (somebody was really excited about this year’s NBA finals matchup) wrote an opinion piece for ESPN today, addressing the breaking news that Sammy Sosa, of 66 HR and corked-bat fame, consumed steroids as a player.

The column begins by highlighting the lies that sports stars have told us over the years, and then bemoans how betrayed we, as fans, must (or should) feel.

Then this happens:

“Think about the times you’ve been brazenly lied to, right to your face, by people who used their “integrity” to fool you,” he writes.

“Bill Clinton said, ‘I never had sexual relations with that woman.’ Even for a relatively common transgression, a country felt betrayed, never mind how it felt being misled into a disastrous war by straight-faced untruths from his successor.”

Really Mr. Dwight-Kobe? Why wouldn’t you stay with the topic you know something about – sports – for your examples? Why taint what could have been a decent article, with self-indulgent, ideological, political half-commentary?

To begin with, I don’t really understand the point about Bush. But it’s certainly unfair to say that the former president told some “straight-faced” lie about WMD’s in Iraq (I’m guessing that’s what Bryant is referring to. The allusion is so ambiguous, it’s unhelpful). Bush was reiterating intelligence reports that worldwide intelligence community was buying into at the time. Of course he bears the responsibility for leading us into Iraq, as well as bungling the first couple years of the effort.

Was Bush over-eager? Yes. Should he have slowed things down? Maybe. But did he tell a “straight faced lie”, on par with Sosa’s lies, or AFraud’s lies, or even Clinton’s famous lie? Absolutely not.

And there’s certainly not societal consensus on the issue, like our columnist would have us assume.

When celebrities, bands, athletes, or reality stars share their “enlightened” opinions about politics, I always end up wanting to choke either myself or them. Whichever ends the pain the quickest.

This may seem extreme, but its really not. You see, these folks are paid millions to entertain, not to enlighten. They are the modern-day versions of the medieval court-jester, and a clown loses his charm the second he takes himself seriously.

I don’t need Sheryl Crow telling me how much toilet paper to use, or Kim Kardashian’s thoughts on gay marriage. And I don’t want a sports writer’s commentary on politics. Entertain. That’s what I want from you. That’s what you are paid to do.

Picture courtesy of www.ffwhite.com

Picture courtesy of http://www.ffwhite.com

Back in 2005, Congressman William Jefferson‘s (D-LA) home in Northeast DC was raided by federal agents, who found $90,000 of cash in the freezer, in “$10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers.”

A federal grand jury indicted Jefferson in ’07, and the trial’s opening arguments were heard today in Alexandria.

According to the Blog of LegalTimes, of the 16 counts the now ex-Congressman faces, the greatest speculation has focused on charges that he planned to give the vice president of Nigeria a $100,000 bribe in return for the vice president’s supporting a business deal in his country.”

Jefferson’s legal defense claims that FBl agents “wrote the script” and “directed the action” to set up their client, drawing him unwillingly into their trap of corruption and scandal.

dollars-obamaBarack Obama emailed me yesterday, telling me that Creigh Deeds is a “dedicated public servant” in the mold of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. He also asked for some of my money.

I thought what we had was special, but given the 200+ articles a google-news-search coughed up today about the email, I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one to get it.

(I SWEAR I made eye contact with him at the inauguration. He was staring so intently at me through my TV.)

The email reminded me that Obama’s fundraising star-power is unparalleled in today’s politics. He put on a clinic in the 2008 elections, building a multilateral fundraising base that leaned heavily on new technologies to promote the Obama brand.

Democratic enthusiasm has worn down a bit in the wake of Obama’s historic run. But does an extremely popular president have the ability to give Deeds the edge in what’s predicted to be a tight race?

Deeds lost to McDonnell in the 2005 race for State Attorney General. By 360 votes.

Whether or not Obama can get Deeds the 360 votes is the million dollar question, literally.

But if Deeds can convince Obama to continue lending support, the newly-minted Democratic candidate for VA Governor will make things difficult for his Republican opponent.

(Stay thirsty my friends)

The Telegraph Road Interchange

The Telegraph Road Interchange

Keeping with the theme of transit, new ramps opened this morning to facilitate smoother traffic between the Beltway’s Thru Lanes and Alexandria’s Eisenhower Valley, according to the Washington Post.

One ramp is for drivers coming from the Inner Loop Thru Lanes to Mill Road/Eisenhower Avenue. Another ramp will take traffic the opposite way, from Mill Road/Eisenhower Avenue to the Outer Loop Thru Lanes.

The ramps are about midway between the interchanges of Route 1 and Telegraph Road. The Post reports that it “should provide relief for drivers who had been using those two interchanges to connect with Eisenhower Valley, now a busy area, thanks to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a U.S. District Court and new housing and commercial development.”

The ramp opening is the latest development in the Wilson Bridge Project, which is currently focused on the Telegraph Road interchange.

There are two unmistakeably fatal flaws in the DC metro transit system, as it currently stands:

1. It doesn’t get my ass to Georgetown.
2. A key area of NoVA is “NoCanDo”, because the genius minds who built the Orange line decided to go toward CENTREVILLE instead of TYSONS CORNER/DULLES AIRPORT.

Seriously, what’s in Centreville???
349203604_d20ed14de8_b You may have heard recently about the fabled “Silver” line. For years, Virginia transit authorities have talked about building a new line, branching off at East Falls Church, toward Tysons Corner, Reston, Herdon, and finally the Dulles airport and Sterling.

In 2004, rumors were put to rest when the Silver line project received formal approval, and preparations were made to expand the metro rail. As a former resident of Reston, and a big fan of the Dulles airport, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the construction of the rail.

But the Washington Business Journal dealt a huge blow to my hopes when it reported over the weekend that efforts to tunnel the metro beneath Tyson’s Corner may grind to a halt, due to a lawsuit from local environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Tysons Tunnel Inc.

According to a statement issued by these groups, the project’s bidding process features irregularities that could eventually harm the environment.

“The lack of competitive bidding is the focus of the forthcoming lawsuit, which may also be instrumental in forcing a reassessment of Virginia’s Public Private Transportation Act, under which the project was advanced,” said the Great Falls Sierra Club’s latest newsletter. “There are many problems with that Act, including procedures making it easier to circumvent federal requirements such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the requirements for competitive bidding.”

Pardon me for freaking out, but if for some reason the local Sierra Club prevents this line from actually happening, I am going to paint the Green line silver in protest.

Hippies.

On May 31, the Washington Post released an op-ed endorsing Jody Wagner in the Democratic primary for Virginia lieutenant governor.ny12001091551.widec

The op-ed focuses primarily on Ms. Wagner’s credentials, and why she is the preferable option in the primary. However, the Post angered former Governor Jim Gilmore by saying that Ms. Wagner “helped extricate Virginia from the risky fiscal policies of former governor Jim Gilmore.”

Gilmore fired back last week in a response op-ed that ran in the Post, as well as on his blog:

“As governor, I did not exercise “risky fiscal policies.” My administration created nearly 200,000 jobs, enhanced the technology industry and began rebuilding the Wilson Bridge and Springfield Interchange. We added 4,000 teachers and dramatically increased the budget of George Mason University. We put $1 billion into the rainy-day fund and delivered the car tax cut.”

Gilmore also highlighted some of the recent fiscal bloopers committed by Virginia’s Democratic leadership:

“In 2002, [Governor] Warner and Ms. Wagner declared a $6 billion shortfall that independent journalists say never existed. Mr. Warner and Ms. Wagner later underestimated revenue and forced a $1.4 billion tax increase. Two months after this tax increase passed, they discovered no deficit but a $1.1 billion surplus. In 2007, Ms. Wagner reported a shortfall of $200 million to $400 million in the state budget. She had overestimated revenue. In 2008, revenue was overstated by $1 billion to justify more spending.”

Gilmore’s response goes on – you get the gist. Some pretty tough rhetoric from a guy who only won 34% of the vote in the 2008 election for Senate (although, to be fair, his landslide loss was partially due to the Obama bubble).

Move over Compton. There’s a new gangsta’s paradise:

When it comes to following local politics, it’s often difficult to find the important information you need in one place. So, I was happy to stumble across The Virginia Gentleman‘s list of Republican candidates running for the VA House of Delegates this year:

Barbara Comstock 34th House District http://www.comstockfordelegate.com
Jim Hyland 35th House District http://www.hylandfordelegate.com
Mark Whited 36th House District http://www.whitedfordelegate.com
Danny Smith 38th House District http://www.dannyfordelegate.com
Joe Bury 39th House District http://www.joebury.com
Delegate Tim Hugo 40th House District http://www.timhugo.com
Kerry Bolognese 41st House District http://www.bolognesefordelegate.com
Delegate Dave Albo 42nd House District http://www.davealbo.com
Tim Nank 43rd House District http://www.timnank.com
Jay McConville 44th House District http://www.gojay.com
Vicki Vasques 45th House District TBA
Sasha Gong 46th House District http://www.sashagong.com
Chris Merola 53rd House District http://www.merola09.com
Jim LeMunyon 67th House District http://www.lemunyon.com
Delegate Tom Rust 86th House District http://www.tomrust.org

Check out the rest of The Virginia Gentleman’s post.

For as long as Virginia has been a state…err…commonwealth, tobacco’s been an integral part of the economy. Although in recent years, its significance in Virginia has shrunk to become more symbolic than anything – Pocahontas’ husband ensured Virginia’s long-term importance in America when he cultivated tobacco as the colony’s (and really America’s) first cash-crop.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports today that the Senate voted 79-17 yesterday to give the FDA authority to “regulate the content and advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products.”

Obviously, big tobacco lobbyists (anybody seen “Thank You for Smoking”?) are going to be hard at work on Capitol Hill over the next few days to try to keep the House from rubber-stamping the Senate’s initiative.

But odds aren’t looking good for Virginia’s tobacco companies. Said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “from what I have seen so far, I believe it will be possible for us to accept [the Senate] bill and send it right on to the president.”

The legislation gives FDA the power to impose more stringent marketing and production regulations on tobacco companies. Here’s a couple of examples (courtesy of the Times-Dispatch):

– Ban on terms such as “light” or “mild” to describe cigarettes.

– Limiting tobacco displays at retail stores to black-and-white text.

– Evaluate tobacco products and ban “dangerous” ingredients (nicotine can’t be banned).

-Tobacco companies would have to get FDA approval for new products.

-Flavored cigarettes (which might be attractive to children) would be banned, but menthol cigarettes would not.

Whether or not government should get involved in the private sector to this degree is another issue. But certainly, if the bill passes through the House, it would deal a heavy blow to Virginia’s tobacco companies.