Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Body of Lies - President Obama is Just Getting Started

Remember the DTV Delay Act? No? It's not man-code for that stunt your husband pulls to avoid taking out the garbage or fixing the flickering light bulb that gives your basement that "insane asylum chic" look. The DTV Delay Act allowed for an extension to those who had not yet switched over to the soon to be mandatory digital converter box. This may surprise you, but this specific piece of legislation falls under the category of an emergency in Obamaland.

Why? Because of the "Five Days of Sunlight" act. President Obama promised to post all legislation online for public review and scrutiny a full five days before signing any bill into law. It was a big deal at the time. It resonated with voters. Here was a guy that was going to bring transparency and "CHANGE" to the White House. He was going to be accountable to the voters, and restore integrity in Washington. He not only fooled a gullible public, he also conned many conservatives - like Christopher Buckley and others - who thought this serpent-tongued charmer was the right man for the job.

Back on the campaign trail, the Obama/Biden website made the following boast;

“Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”
President Obama had barely been sworn into office when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act followed by the re-authorization (with changes) to SCHIP legislation only a few days later. Obama is not the first President to break a campaign promise, but he most certainly holds the record for wasting no time in casting aside all those silly commitments he made to voters on the campaign trail. As of late June, The Cato institute documented almost 45 separate pieces of legislation and amendments that never saw the metaphorical light of day that candidate Obama considered a matter of the utmost principal and ethics. On February 5th, the administration quickly ran some political interference, issuing the following statement; "We will be implementing this policy in full soon...currently we are working through implementation procedures". For those of you unfamiliar with Washington beltway spin, that's Obama-speak for "don't hold your breath".

Wise advice, considering that if you have been withholding any oxygen waiting for this ground breaking new policy initiative, we are rapidly approaching the 7 month mark, and the President has all but abandoned this foolish promise that he must have surely known was impractical and unworkable - but we'll get back to that later.

How about his campaign pledge that there would be no new taxes imposed on the middle class to fulfill his myriad of FDR style social engineering projects? Nope. It seems that has fallen by the wayside as well. After the Congressional Budget Office warned House Democrats and Republicans that the President's plan to pay for his massive socialized health care scam by heavily taxing those who made above $250,000 would not even begin to cover the enormous expenditures required to fund such a program, President Obama hinted that the wallets of the middle class were exactly where the government's hands would be reaching. During his July 22nd infomercial on his new health care proposal, the President said;

"The one commitment that I've been clear about is, I don't want that final one-third of the cost of health care to be completely shouldered on the backs of middle-class families who are already struggling in a difficult economy."

....not "completely shouldered"? President Obama promised that the middle class would not be further taxed to trim the federal budget, pay for his health care initiative, or foot the bill for anything else cooked up by he and Nancy Pelosi. Perhaps he misspoke. Remember candidate Obama trekking across the country in rolled up shirt sleeves, chowing down waffles and cheese burgers at local diners in a bid to convince folks that he wasn't some ivy-league leftist going after the hard earned money of middle class America? I remember. I remember his countless promises and pledges to steer clear of any middle class tax increases.

This whip-lash inducing turn around should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention. As far back as late June 28th, cracks in the administration's no tax pledge started to show when senior advisor David Axelrod was pinned into a corner by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, making the bizarre admission that; "One of the problems we've had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don't get anything done. That's not the way the president approaches this.” - Translation? -"It's kind of stupid to expect us to keep promises. We just promised stuff to get elected. President Obama can't get anything done without taxing the holy hell out of everyone. Don't you know that?"

The administration even boasted about how fear mongering was a delightful way to pass legislation without proper reflection or debate. Back in November, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel confided to The New York Times that “Rule #1 (is) never allow a crisis to go to waste." Hillary Clinton and the President himself have often times repeated this little "joke", prompting NRO's Jonah Goldberg to sagely note that;

"...the White House tactic isn’t funny at all. It’s scary. Its amorality is outweighed only by the grotesque and astoundingly naked cynicism of it all."

We all know the media is asleep at the wheel when it comes to the Obama administration...wait, scratch that - that's way too charitable. I think asleep in the rumpled sheets of the White House bed while waiting for room service is far more accurate. Why haven't any of the political intelligentsia at CNN or MSNBC bothered to point out the glaring disingenuousness of the President's call for a "second stimulus"? Second stimulus? You would think that amongst the combined intellectual fire power of the John King's, Chris Matthews' , David Gergen's and Candi Crowley's of the world, someone would have pointed out that February's 787 billion dollar package was the second stimulus. The first stimulus package of $168 billion passed in the last year of the Bush administration. A new stimulus package would be the third. The first two failed at creating or sustaining new jobs, but that's not the issue. To call for a second stimulus is a flat out distortion of the truth. We already had a second stimulus. President Obama claimed that if it didn't pass, unemployment would soar to 9%. As we go to print, the unemployment numbers have already surpassed the double digits and are fast approaching 14%. Maybe the Count from Sesame street was drunk the day young Barack was watching.


We could fill several blogs with the trail of broken campaign promises and abandoned pledges that went by the wayside under the Obama administration. I'm sure hundreds of other bloggers have done so already. But let's get back to why "The Five Days of Sunlight" act should bother you more than any other. On June 26th, the House passed the Waxman/Markey "cap and trade" bill. An amendment to the original bill was introduced at 3am on the day of passage and was over 300 pages long. If 3am legislative trickery doesn't disturb you enough, this should - Not a single written copy of the amendment existed when the legislation was passed, meaning that not a single member of the House of Representatives could have read the amendment even if they cared to. 219 of your elected officials voted for it anyway. As Mark Steyn wondered, "Is that even legal"?

I guess that's the transparency President Obama promised to bring to Washington - long winded, bureaucracy-laden legislation introduced in the dead of night with not a single copy to be found. How can you post a bill for even 5 minutes on the White House website when a written copy of the bill doesn't exist in the first place?

President Obama may have promised a government filled with sunshine, but so far, all he's delivering is 4 years of cloudy skies.



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bus Blogging - Drag me to Hell

The poster advertisement at the bus terminal shows a picture of a guy who looks as though he accidentally walked in on his roommate's hot girlfriend taking a shower, and has sprawled out on a plush comfortable couch, hands laced behind his head, just reliving the moment. The caption reads "Get Ready For Comfort". Poster guy has a laptop, an I-Pod, a stack of books, and what appears to be a rather large man-purse ready at his side. Must be nice.

Presently, I'm not feeling so much like poster dude. I feel like I'm sitting on Robert Byrd's skeleton, and there's about 6 inches of space seperating my neck from the broken cup holder precariously holding my scorching cup of coffee, which I am fairly certain will soon be gracing my twig and berries with 2nd degree burns.

"Get Ready For Comfort". I think "Get Ready For The Chiropractor" would be a slightly more honest assessment of what to expect after buying a ticket to ride the iron maiden on wheels.

I find myself in the present situation because I forgot an appointment 3 hours out of town that I had scheduled for today. Necessity and expedience has made quicker and more convenient forms of transportation inaccessible at present. These types of things happen to me quite frequently. Though the lovely Miss Claire continues to buy me beautiful leather bound day planners from Barnes and Noble every year, I persist in keeping track of all important engagements on miscellaneous scraps of paper that I randomly stuff in my wallet. You would think that a guy on is his way up the conservative-libertoid blogosphere ladder would have his s%$t together. You would be wrong.

We just passed a car with a New York license plate adorned with "Obama/Biden '08" and "War is not the Answer" bumper stickers. I quickly wrote "Obama is a wiener" on a scrap of paper to flash at them as we drove by, but thought better of it in honor of my credo that good manners are the glue that hold society together. The lady two rows in front of me appears to hold manners and decorum in much lower esteem than I do, as she seems quite fine with the fact that her 12 year old is wearing a crisp white t-shirt with the word F#$CK emblazoned in large black letters on the front. What's odd is that he appears to otherwise be a well mannered and immaculately groomed young man. He even held the door open for me to the coffee shop during our last stop. Not a trace of angst to be found for a kid making such a bold statement with his t-shirt. Maybe he's playing, as James Bowman might say, "a little pomo joke on us all".

I'll spare you the details of what I will only refer to as "the incident" that just happened in the tin box that is posing as a bathroom at the back of the bus. Push the bubble on a Trouble game board and watch the dice jump violently about inside the confined area. That would sum up the PG part of what just happened to me in the charming little rolling wash closet.

I just had to change buses. I wasn't aware that this particular form of travel had stop overs. My hopes were briefly buoyed when I noticed this appeared to be a shiny new vehicle; Maybe it would be filled with those big comfy seats with all kinds of room for laptops and I-Pods and leg stretching. Nope. It is indeed brand new, but the only modification appears to be an illustration on the near eye level cup holder warning that if the person if front of you suddenly decides to rapidly recline his seat, the coffee in your cup holder may cause a painful crotch incident.

In perspective, there are far worse things in this world than having to take a brief but uncomfortable bus ride - like making the mistake of reading a Maureen Dowd column with the false hope that the mean little shrew will put down her bile-filled pen and start being witty again...or listening to Vice President Biden trying to explain complex government policy by using arbitrary percentages to determine how successful they might be...or maybe even choosing to read an up and coming conservative blogger only to suffer through a long, rambling diatribe about his transportation prejudices.

Seriously though, I can't feel my ass anymore.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gay Marriage Part Deux - The Empty Ring

I discovered a strange paradox that exists within a certain segment of our society after writing the first half of my gay marriage article. Many non-conformists (mainly but not exclusively on the left) frequently eschew the entire concept of marriage, proclaiming "We don't need a stupid piece of paper to prove that we love each other". Odd, seeing that these very same people - who scoff at tradition and so called "conformity" - are now doing much tub-thumping about how this very same "piece of paper" now carries such importance that it has become the centrifuge of what the left sees as the holy grail of it's social agenda - Gay marriage.

The over arching theme of the first segment of this piece was that any changes to the constitution, no matter how inconsequential they may seem at the time, always lead to unintended consequences. In the case of gay marriage, a state that does not permit same sex marriage must recognize a gay marriage performed in another state as legally valid, thus opening the flood gates of that particular state's courts with litigation for the recognition of all same sex marriage based on that precedent. Another conclusion which we arrived at is that the courts are now dealing with dozen of applications for recognition of other non-traditional forms of marriage (ie polygamists) due to (once again) the precedent set by recognizing the validity of a same sex marriage. I will allow for the caveat that perhaps it is somewhat unfair to entirely lay the blame on those who fought for gay marriage rights, but it difficult to deny that these other cases would have much less weight had courts not ruled in favour of recognizing gay marriage, which leads us to another conundrum.

In the last Presidential election, 30 states soundly rejected by the idea of same sex marriage, initiatives that were carried with heavy support from the black and Latino community. The uncomfortable truth is that the majority of states that succeeded in recognizing gay marriage did not do so through the proper legislative channels or the popular vote. These laws were imposed upon the states by activist courts engaging in the most arrogant form of judicial imperialism. Courts have no authority to create laws, they are there to interpret existing laws and the constitution, yet this disturbing trend continues.

Many proponents of gay marriage, mostly special interest groups acting on behalf of the gay and lesbian community, make the unpersuasive case that this is a "civil rights" issue, insinuating that they are being deprived of a constitutional right enjoyed by others. They are not. Every citizen of the United States has the right to marry - with some exceptions. This may seem like a trivial argument, but the reality is gays do have the right to marry, just not to someone of the same sex. They are asking for what Jefferson may have referred to as something "extra-constitutional", that is, something outside the boundaries of the constitution.

The reality is that gays and lesbians enjoy more legal and constitutional protections than other citizens. They are protected by "hate crime laws". Hate crime laws are based on emotion, and not sober contemplation. Laws are not designed to appease the whims of any group that feels unfairly maligned. They are there protect, in real and tangible ways, all citizens. Hate crime legislation does nothing to prevent violence against gay men or women. It is based on the foolish premise, as Jonah Goldberg once opined:
"...that murderous thugs would never have killed certain people if only our laws asserted that murdering certain fashionable minorities is really, really bad. You see, murder laws — which often result in people being executed — don’t send a strong enough message."
Whether you are murdered because you are gay, fat, short, black, malodorous, or over enthusiastic about east-Indian cricket matches, it speaks to motive and nothing more. Hate crimes do not act as a deterrent - but I'm getting off point.

This issue is not going away, and though it is a deeply polarizing one, it is not one that enjoys the support of popular opinion. It failed to pass in every state where it was on the ballot, and is not supported by the most liberal of liberals - the President himself. Nor does the idea enjoy the unanimous support of everyone in the gay community. I have received emails from many gay readers who do not feel this is a pressing issue to them, and claim it only further inflates the passions of opponents who otherwise have a libertarian view of people who choose to live non-traditional lifestyles.

Gays have reached an unprecedented degree of tolerance and acceptance in our society. Whether it be the workplace, television, or movies, gays are part of our society, and at least in my own case, dear friends.

Perhaps a certain segment of the gay lobby suffer from the same malaise that affects some woman in the feminist movement who continue to insist that abortion rights are the single most important issue facing woman today. Having gained equality in almost every facet of society, special interest groups continue to adopt a policy of combativeness - swinging their fists wildly in a ring when there are no longer any opponents left to fight.



Monday, July 13, 2009

From the Archives - Face-blah

The following post appeared on this blog one year ago. Hope this scrap of meat will satiate the masses as I wade through a rather busy week.

Well over a decade ago, I remember some self-professed "technology expert" from the New York Times - with all the pompous self-righteousness that could only come from someone who worked for the Times - proclaim that the Internet was becoming such an unstoppable force because men love technology and men love porn. It was the sort of statement that perfectly encapsulated the thinking of the left-wing media intelligentsia - A quick witty repartee that rolled nicely off the tongue but offered little in actual substance. Mr. Techno-porn produced no facts, no figures, no fancy schmancy pie-chart graphics that illustrated what percentage of heavy breathers spent more time and money on the Internet in comparison with, say, folks who bought books on Barnes and Nobles, kids researching science projects, or Moms outfitting the family for the perfect fall picture on LL Bean. Nope, just a smug little comment and an "oh my goodness I'm so clever" look on his face, shared by all in the studio at CNN.

Putting dollars, cents, and guys with sticky keyboards aside, a much more irritating trend was emerging on the Internet. It was certainly less disturbing than wondering why your husband always shut down all his browsers every time you entered the room, but it was every bit as annoying - Social networking. I've written about this before, and I have acquiesced to the caveat that we must give a piece of our soul to the great cyber gods. My once booming website has since become humble blog, which demands constant updating because of the rapid-fire pace of social networking sites and blogs in general. As you know, if you're a fan of constant updating, I may not be your man. Bookmark the site and visit, say, once a week. At least you get quality for your time...Well, depending on whether or not you abide by good taste and proper sleeping habits.

Speaking of which, there is Facebook. If the Internet is cyber-crack for the masses, Facebook is cyber-crack laced with meth. Facebook allows you to see what others have posted, and when and how often they've posted. Judging by a few quick scans, some of my friends don't sleep or go to work. I glanced at a friend's listings, and they posted or sent something out about every 1 to 2 hours for almost 3 days straight. You have to wonder what the hell is going on with someone when you see a post dated 3:31AM saying "Peggy Sue is wondering where everyone is". Here's a hint: Probably sleeping, Peggy. That would be a reasonable guess.

Another amusing thing are the ratings, or rankings, or whatever the hell they're called. Apparently, out of my group of friends, I'm consistently rated "Top Scientist". Really? I have to use my fingers to count. My parents did most of the work on my science projects in junior high, and when they didn't, I would just wrap a bunch of oranges in tin foil and stand in front of the class proclaiming "BEHOLD THE MIGHTY PLANETS", then sit down.

Remember 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon? I was never a fan, but I loved the concept because it brought back the old fashioned parlour game where people would have to sit together face to face and socialize. If you've spent anytime on Facebook, people invite each other to cyber paint ball games and mafia wars where they've conveniently taken out all the bother of human interaction. When people are out in public, I notice that manners are eroding, and am frequently shocked to see someone pick something up at a convenience store or coffee shop without making the slightest acknowledgement that there is a real person serving them. They simply mutter their orders and don't say another word or make eye contact. I know the coin flips the other way as well, but believe me, the reason the kids behind the counter don't talk to you much at late night burger joints is because most of them are higher than moon bats. (hat tip to Jonah on that one).

Now - Shut off your computers and go do something really crazy. Make a meal together with your significant other while playing some Brett Dennon, sit down, and....have a conversation.



Thursday, July 09, 2009

Random Weekend Musings - Blogging by Numbers

Wow. Our inbox and google rankings are showing this blog is on fire. Not like some kind of auto-da-fe, but more like what the folks at spark.com or Quagmire are fond of saying - we are causing an "Internet burning-like sensation". Thank you to everyone for making this happen. You guys are the life blood of this organ. Thank you for thrusting the The Hype into the spotlight.

1 - I have been plagued by some rather odd dreams lately, the most interesting involving Anderson Cooper going on a crazed rant about how he hated Ann Coulter. In the dream, I jumped on my rather large 5 speed bike and raced to the resort where he was staying to confront him and ask why he just doesn't just drop his absurd pretence of objectivity, but before I could get there, I got stopped by the police because the basket on the front of my bike was bigger than EU regulatory standards. Damn Euro-dweeb bureaucrats, they're even regulating the unconscious.

2 - Some interesting statistics from John C Goodman came out recently on how America's health care system holds up against the rest of the world.

1.8 Million British folks are waiting for out-patient or hospital treatment at any given time. Canadian patients wait an average of 62 days for blood vessel access for kidney dialysis - it averages 35 days in most of Europe. In Norway, hip replacements take an average of 133 days, 160 days for knee replacement, and 46 days for bypass surgery. Only 5% of American have to wait more than 3 months for surgery. The number is 23% in Australia, 26% in New Zealand, 27% for us Canucks, and 36% for the British.

President Obama is running into sharp opposition in the face of his fanciful health care bill, and was recently booed by members of the AHA after making the outlandish statement that he would reduce annual spending to under 2% per year over the next ten years. Good luck with that. Hold on to your wallets, my American friends, and take care of your health. As National Review recently quipped, "The doctor will see you....eventually."

3 - From a reader - "In honor of the 44th President of the United States , Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream has introduced a new flavor: "Barocky Road" . The cost is $100.00 per scoop. When purchased it will be presented to you in a large beautiful cone, but then the ice cream is taken away and given to the person in line behind you. You are left with an empty wallet and no change, holding an empty cone with no hope of getting any ice cream." Are you stimulated?

4 - I am going to open up a whole new world of pain on the next person who compares Regina Spektor to that talentless hack Tori Amos. It's as silly as comparing a five star resort to a Motel Six because they're both places that have beds in the room.

5 - Thank you all for the kind emails about my last blog on the follies of youthful/extreme left-wing idealism. I had no idea so many people read this little organ of mine. A big hat tip to our toenail collecting webmaster Paul Leger, and my wonderful editor, the lovely miss Claire.

6 - I like to move it, move it. I like to move it, move it.

7 - Part two of our gay marriage series has not been forgotten like that last piece of peach cobbler in the fridge. I plan on also addressing the problem with so-called "hate crime laws" and how they risk negating the concept of double jeopardy of our friends to the South.

8 - It has come my attention that The Straight Hype is referred to as "TSH" by our fans. I had no idea, and I write the damn thing. Anyway, I like it!

9 - Have a great greco-roman train wreck of a weekend, and enjoy Regina Spektor's second video release from her new album, Far.



Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Folly of Youth and the Simple Truth

While having coffee with two very bright and thoughtful young friends, one of them said something which could only be referred to as "whiplash-inducing". After briefly describing the bizarre plot line of the fun but incredibly hair-brained movie The International, he took a sip of his French roast and wondered aloud how such a movie could have ever been made in Hollywood. What was disconcerting about this statement was that he wasn't being sarcastic. He was actually surprised that Hollywood was finally speaking truth to power - that such a film would not usually get the green light under the watchful eyes of the financial puppeteers who are part of a larger international network of duplicity and greed.

Truth is, these types of movies - in which America, the media, world banks, and the CIA are entangled in a web of deception - have been Hollywood's bread and butter for the last 20 years. Think Syriana, State of Play, The Corporation, The Bourne movies, Lord of War, W., Orwell Rolls in his Grave, The Conversation...well, just look up at the marquee and 4 times out 5, the bad guys won't be crazed Jihadists or jilted lovers. Oh no, your villains these days will more often than not be the international cabal of evil, the military-industrial complex, or the "Christian Right".

My young friend is by no means some uninformed, knee jerk liberal. In fact he is educated, charming, and very well spoken. The problem is that he's yet to realize that like an audience member at a magic show who is desperately trying to see how Marvin the Magnificent is pulling the rabbit out of the hat, he's been duped by misdirection, and still hasn't figured out the trick.

It's the ever eternal "folly of youth", and even we ardent conservatives were probably of a similar mindset before we hit our twenties. It's a curious phenomenon. People believe with great sincerity that Rupert Murdoch's media empire is controlling the flow of news for the Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush/Christan right brigade while soulless companies are anaesthetising the populace into buying things they don't need. Most of us have heard all of this before, but those who really buy into this particular school of thought think they are in possession of a great secret - like they've just received the shiny ring from Bilbo Baggins and must hurry to Mount Doom to dispose of it in the fires of Mordor.

Here's the great irony - Watch any thriller at the multiplex, or tune into CNN or MSNBC for less than an hour, and you'll find out they're shoveling out this very same nonsense at a quicker pace than the Shamwow guy mops up those nasty spills. They've missed the bait and switch, and failed to realize they've been as easily duped as the guy they believe has somehow been subtly coerced into buying that Prius he really can't afford.

At the heart of the discussion was the BCCI, the now defunct bank whose questionable financial dealings eventually led to their downfall. Many people believe that the bank was caught red handed undermining the financial and governmental workings of third world countries in a Machiavellian scheme to eventually secure absolute control over their development. The BCCI became the most scrutinized bank in financial history, and it was the focus of an intense investigation by American and British agencies, including Manhattan's district Attorney's Office. The third world financing scheme is utter fantasy, but like the 9/11 "Truthers" who believe the attacks on the World Trade Center was the work of "The Jews" and "The Neocons", they demonstrate that a conspiracy theory is like a wildfire - hard to put out once started, and leaving nothing but destruction in its wake.

The truth about BCCI is far less sexy than we would like to believe. They cooked the books, used false identities to open accounts (and even banks) for questionable clients, and there were charges of tax evasion brought against former partners in the bank. They certainly were dirty, but the more outrageous claims, like The International, are pure fiction. In fact, most of the more credible evidence points to the BCCI acting as a agent to finance anti-American, and anti-Israeli operations. A conspiracy can be twisted to fit the whims of anyone's particular political leanings. Even my own.

So what are we to conclude once we wade through the mess of international intrigue, media conglomerates, and unabated capitalism? Well, when the government pressures banks to make loans to people who can't afford them, those people are going to default 68% of the time. The pretty lady on TV really can't force you to buy that flat screen plasma TV on your nearly maxed credit card. Detention of enemy combatants has been a practice of every armed conflict in history, and if the Bush administration really wanted to bilk middle eastern oil that badly, wouldn't it have been a lot easier just to re-negotiate the oil deals they struck in the mid-eighties? Why are rational people so eager to believe their government conspired with Israel to slaughter thousands of it's own citizens for a few Haliburton contracts?

Did the US deal with some shady middle eastern characters in the past? Yes, but as NR sagely noted, should they have continued to do so for consistency's sake?

It's a short walk down the road to Lochness, and the path is filled with boogeymen, creepy crawlies, and things that go bump in the night - but by engaging in these fantasies, we turn our heads away from the real dangers of this world. There have been over 20 honor killings in the past 2 years in the US and Canada, and like it or not, there are people who live by an ancient and barbaric honour code who want to kill Americans and wipe Israel off the face of the earth - Not because of something so trivial as middle eastern domestic policy, but because radical Jihadists believe Westerners are infidels for being tolerant of women's and gay rights, coupled with a sincere belief that Jews are descended from apes and rats. It is proclaimed daily on Palestinian TV shows, the most disturbing being children's shows.

There is an old latin expression; "Libenter id hominus quod volunt credunt". It means people believe what they most desire to be true. Yes, the world is sometimes an ugly place, but not for the reasons many well intentioned people believe.



Thursday, July 02, 2009

Out of the Abyss

"A man may drink because he considers himself a failure, yet fail all the more completely because he drinks".

George Orwell

There will be no Straight Hype updates or blogs this weekend, as my family and friends are traveling to Moncton to celebrate my fifth year of Sobriety in AA. 5 years ago this Saturday, I checked myself into a detox facility after years of closet drinking and the rapid decline of my "functioning alcoholic" stage. I was no longer a functioning alcoholic - I was a drunken wreck, and I wasn't fooling anyone any more.

I find myself asking "why did I get better when so many others didn't" lately. Lots of people tried just as hard as me, went to as many meetings as me, and did all the right things that are supposed to keep you on the straight and narrow. I have (what you medical nerds refer to as) Type II Alcoholism. One the hardest to deal with and a disorder that has a very low recovery rate. I have seen many of my fellow members and friends end up in jails, hospitals, and even die from the disease in one form or another. Why did I get better, and why did they fail?

It's not about "will power" or "self control", but I won't bore you with the details, lest you drag me out into the street and beat me over the head with a bottle of Jaegermeister. I like to think that it's been my conservative values of self-reliance and personal responsibility that have kept me sober all these years, but I know it has nothing to do with my personal political proclivities.

Maybe God looked down and whispered "Joe, I need to keep you around". Maybe he needed me to annoy liberals and entertain my countless fans with fart jokes and split infinitives. Maybe it was all a path leading to the lovely Miss Claire. I don't know. I just know one day I had finally had enough, and I've never looked back.

Today I lead a charmed life. I'm getting married, I have a wonderful job, an uber cool studio pad, and a blog that's read around the world - From Montreal to Maine, from London to Los Angeles, and from Australia to Austin.

I wouldn't go back for all the beer in Boston - and believe me, they make wicked beer in Beantown.