April 7, 2013

The Dirty Snowpile Awards for 2013

All the big Hollywood award shows are over, Ben Affleck has shaved off his beard, and the good, bad, and ugly of fashion have been all been identified. And now, as the temperature here in Syracuse heads north of 60 degrees, it's time for the Dirty Snowpile Awards. I'm sure this year's winners will be just as proud as those from  2010 and 2011  to receive this prestigious honor.

So where do we start?  We had a lot of material to choose from, no question about that -- and we have a repeat winner or two this time around, some 'defending champions', if you will.  Here goes:

The 'Put an Idiot Bumper Sticker on your Own Forehead' Dirty Snowpile goes to John Sununu, for his engaging and idiotic appearance with Soledad O'Brien on CNN.  Sununu, who suggested O'Brien put an Obama bumper sticker on her forehead, was trying to make a point by referencing an actual document - the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) assessment on the costs of repealing the
Affordable Care Act - and pretending it said the ACA cut Medicare benefits by over $700 billion.  This was not the case, but it didn't matter to Sununu - say something loud enough and often enough and people will believe you.  Unless it's Soledad O'Brien, who actually read the CBO letter and called Sununu on the lie- er, misstatement.

The 'Groucho Marx' Dirty Snowpile goes to National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Director Wayne LaPierre, for embodying the oft-cited Groucho quote about belonging to a club that would have him as a member. LaPierre, by his comments after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, his statements after other mass shootings that it was 'too soon' to talk about them, and his inflammatory statements since then, has done more to fan the flames of gun control advocates than the horrific shootings themselves.  The NRA would do themselves a favor if they found another mouthpiece.


The 'Talk Less, Do More' Dirty Snowpile goes to jointly to Congress and President Obama. All of them need to get to work.  Recent attempts at playing nice (Obama taking Senate Republicans to dinner, or having lunch with House Republicans) are fine but we don't need any more photo ops. We know what you all look like, we know what you think is important -- but we don't need photo opportunities, we need real opportunities.  Remember what they say: "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need." Now's the time to try.

On a related note, the 'Who the (Heck) are You' Dirty Snowpile goes to the handful of people who still approve of Congress.  Approval rates have fluctuated a bit over the past several months, but I don't remember when it was even as high as 20%. I'm reminded of when we were kids, not excited about eating our vegetables.  Dad would tell us there were starving kids in other countries who would love to have our food, one day, my brother challenged him to name one. Can anyone name one of these 'approvers'?

And then we have the 'Wading Through Roe v. Wade' Dirty Snowpile to, well, to everyone - male or female, Democrat or Republican - who said anything about rape and abortion in the last election cycle.  We had Akin  and women's bodies 'shutting that thing down' and Mourdock with 'God's intent' and jokes about aspirin being a contraceptive and Louise Slaughter with her Nazi references -- it's all nonsense.  If people want to try and legislate abortion away, so be it -- it will be up to the courts, ultimately, to decide whether any new law are legal. In the meantime, can we please just stop letting the stupid people talk about it?


The thing about dirty snowpiles is, the dirtier they are, the longer they stick around. Sometimes it feels like that with our elected officials, doesn't it? It's a pretty good thing that you can control the budget of the agency you formed to investigate your own allegedly bad behavior, isn't it? Kind of makes it hard for that agency to do a good job, when with the stroke of a pen the funding can be cut. But that's the way it works for the Congressional Ethics Office, under the House Ethics Committee.  And speaking of ethics, say goodbye to Jesse Jackson Jr. (and his wife) who agreed to fess up to stealing money from campaign contributors. Let's give these folks the 'House (of Cards) Ethics' Dirty Snowpile; this one looks ready to tumble over any minute.

And what about the Presidential contest last year? Lots of Republicans, fighting each other, and in the end they all lost. Not because they were bad, but because of which one of them won. And so, the 47% Dirty Snowpile goes to none other than Mitt Romney. We all remember the 47% comment, right? That, and all those gifts that Obama gave to voters. Yeah, that's what it was, the 47% and those stinking gifts.

Albany has its own set of issues, apart from the fun that everyone has in Washington.  Here in New York, we have Andrew Cuomo, that Sonova Governor, who was elected fairly easily.  Now, apparently, he thinks he's the Supreme Commander of the Empire (State -- you're the Governor of the Empire State, Andrew). It doesn't, but apparently no one's told him that yet.

Cuomo earned One Man in a Room Dirty Snowpile. Cuomo blew a perfectly good opportunity to craft legitimate gun legislation; he shot it all to hell, actually, by pushing an emergency bill, and by not focusing on the things that people generally agree on. Instead, the NY SAFE Act, shoved down the throats of New Yorkers, satisfies no one.  Typos and bad law passed under cover of darkness (led by the Transparency Governor) don't make NY SAFE.  They make us look like morons.

And speaking of morons. The 'My Future's So Bright, I Have to be a Republican' Dirty Snowpile goes to State Senator Malcolm Smith, the sitting Democrat who tried to bribe his way into the Bloomberg Post as a Republican. I'm not sure whether this says more about his creativity or the foolishness of his partners in crime, so anxious to have any politician in their pocket they'd take one of any stripe.

There will be more to fall as Preet Bharara, the rising star US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, continues to investigate. And that will be a good thing for all of us who lose a little bit of faith in the system each and every year.

Sadly, I could hand out as many awards as there are dirty snowpiles here in Syracuse during an average spring. And even though temps are starting to get up there, we do still have a couple of dirty snowpiles left in town.  So, I'll do one more -- we'll have an even 10 this year.

The 'Make Mine a Single' Dirty Snowpile goes to local State Senator John DeFrancisco, for applauding himself for not double-dipping (retiring to collect a pension and continuing to collect a salary as a legislator at the same time).   While some think it's laudable that he chose not to double-dip, DeFrancisco's comments when questioned by a reporter left a few things to be desired.  He started out OK, noting that he wasn't really retired, and I agree that seems pretty simple and straightforward.  But then, he added
If I get hit by a car tomorrow and I died, it would be a $100,000 benefit, which is probably about two years pension and then my wife has nothing further. That's a real concern. 
Yeah, that's a real concern for everyone who works, Senator, including the taxpayers who support your $113,000 salary and who will be paying the $50,000 pension you've earned on your part-time job.  But we're glad you're taking care of yourself first, we really are.

And with that, the snow shovel is in the shed until next winter.

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