Friday, January 5, 2007

'Fallout 2006 White Elephant Awards

“Political Fallout” proudly presents: The 2006 White Elephant Awards...

The Gifts that Keeps on Taking…

Traditionally, a white elephant is a valuable possession whose upkeep exceeds its usefulness, and it’s therefore a liability. The term derives from the sacred white elephants kept by Southeast Asian monarchs. Since then, a white elephant has taken on other connotations, especially in the U.S. where they’re rare – unless used to reference the GOP elephant after a lopsided defeat (e.g. 2006 midterm elections). Americans may also participate in a white-elephant gift exchange, wherein participants give away something they’ve had trouble giving away for whatever reason --usually because they received it as a gift from a close friend or relative, thus deeming the gift sacred-by-association (e.g. a sequined Christmas sweater from a great aunt, a porcelain Liberace statue from a grandmother, or a penis-shape toothbrush holder received from the maid of honor at a bachelorette party).

Without further adieu, here are the 2006 winners:

(Warning: Please remove shoes and socks before entering the “Money Pit” and swim at your OWN Risk!)

5. Iowa Values Fund: $50 million

This economic development gift became a hot item during the Democratic Primary race, when gubernatorial candidate Ed Fallon not only called into question the number of supposed jobs created, but some of the Fat Corporate Cats (e.g. Wells Fargo (left) who received some of the funds ($10 million in 2003). Granted, the Wells Fargo Arena did draw me into Des Moines to see the legendary rockers Bruce Springsteen and The Who, but my experiences at the concession stands (One Brat + One Beer = priceless) told me that Wells Fargo could’ve managed quite well without the Values Fund handout. (White Elephant set to expire in 2013)

After playing a scathing rendition of Pete Seeger's "Pay Me My Money Down," The Boss flips off the Wells Fargo corporate cronies stowed away in the luxury skyboxes.

4. Steve Alford: estimated upkeep = $1 million/year

Had Alford’s heavily favored team made it past the first round of the NCAA tournament last March, the Hawks could have passed this White Elephant off to some other sucker looking for a Bobby Knight clone to help revitalize their program. So what does outgoing athletic director, Bob Bowlsby, give Alford for blowing it? Answer: A one-year extension on his contract, which included a 16.7% bump in his annual base salary to $500,000. Add this to his endorsement deals, camps, apparel contracts and income from his radio show (he actually gets paid for this?), Alford’s annual salary is estimated at $925,000. In addition, Alford gets a longevity bonus of $300,000 each year he stays in his position. So what does Bowlsby’s replacement, Gary Barta, do to reward Alford? He extends his contract one more year, meaning we’re stuck with Alford until at least 2011. Not bad for the third best team in the state of Iowa this year (assuming the Hawks could beat the top ranked high school teams).

3. Outlawed Touch Play Machines: $40,200,000 (est. 6700 banished machines x $6000 = $40,200,000)

You can touch, but you cannot play. Iowans and politicians got very touchy about TouchPlay machines this year (even more so than the onslaught of bad puns on blogs). Both houses passed and Vilsack signed legislation in 2002 that opened the doors to TouchPlay machines, and businesses, who made good-faith agreements with the Iowa Lottery, invested in the machines at about $6000 a pop. Cha Ching! Within a year, TouchPlay machines began popping up all over Iowa, turning convenient stores into Super Convenience stores where patrons could buy food, cigarettes, alcohol, and also gamble at one stop. How convenient indeed. And now that the machines have been banished, lawsuits filed by businesses have been popping up in their absence. Although, no business has yet to win a suit, the state has to keep its lawyers’ coiffeurs full so they can defend the blitzkrieg of litigation. Who knows how much this will cost Iowa’s taxpayer in the future.

2. Iowa Rainforest (Earthpark):$180 million (-$50 million federal earmark)

Like the proverbial yuletide fruitcake, Grassley’s pet-earmark project keeps getting passed around, this years’ exchange being between Coralville and Pella – the latest proposed site of the Dutch Amazon Rain Forest. Move over Tulips, this town ain't big enough for the both of us. The initial costs of Earthpark are estimated at $180 million. While Senator Grassley has procured $50 million of the start-up costs, the burden to run this operation will inevitably fall upon the taxpayers, assuming the venture runs in the red. If the project ever goes through, it will probably go under within five years, before being outsourced to South America, where the day-to-day operations will be much cheaper.

1. The Occupation in Iraq Costs (Iowa): $2,693,615,000

Thursday, January 4, 2007

God Joins the “War on Toms”

Good news on the “War on Toms” warfront: God has joined forces with “Political Fallout” to help close the “Friend Gap.” Despite the rumor that the “My” in My Space indicates the possessive of My Space Tom, ‘Fallout sources confirm that God’s realm does indeed extend to all nooks and crannies of cyberspace. Sorry, My Space Tom. You may have nearly 150 million friends, but when God wasn’t busy helping Al Gore create the Internet, She helped create your friends.

As history has taught us, with God on our side, we cannot lose, right? I feel blessed God could take time out of Her busy schedule to help our cause. I can only imagine that spreading Democracy to formerly despotic lands must not only be physically exhausting but mentally taxing as well. Not to mention, with the new members of the 110th Congress swearing in today, I imagine God will be ready for a Spring Break vacation in South Padre come March.

Join God today and help us close the “Friend Gap”:

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

’08 Caucuses: Drafting Britney Violates “Separation of Politics and the Arts”

In the culture of fear-driven politics, it appears Iowa is afraid of losing its first-in-the-nation status. But hold on folks…

Have no fear, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau is here!

The bureau’s film commission wants to mix politics with entertainment, which, by the way, is a direct violation of the unwritten clause of the Constitution which calls for the “separation of Politics and the Arts.” Both parties have already been pushing the limitations of this unwritten statute with their National political conventions -- glorified Infomercials filled with political speakers who’ve mastered the glazed-over Infomercial look that tells viewers “if you buy this product, you too will be perpetually stoned.”

The aim of the bureau is to spark nationwide appreciation and understanding of the presidential-nomination process. Organizers have already added Britney Spears and Lee Greenwood to their wish list to help communicate these objectives. So when Britney Spears breaks into a tawdry rendition of “Toxic” and belts:

There’s no escape/ I can’t hide /I need a hit/Baby, give me it /You’re dangerous/I’m lovin’ it …

People ignorant of politics and the caucus process will have a full understanding of not only how precinct delegates are chosen but what their specific duties and responsibilities will entail at the county level.

But again, the film commission is walking the fine line separating politics and the arts, claiming in their press release, “politics will be left at the door, but the window will be open to positive political satire.” Hmmmm…positive political satire, eh? This pretty much puts the kibosh on Stephen Corbert and pretty much any other satirist/comedian except Iowa’s very own Tom Arnold. (Anybody else smell a conspiracy theory here? First hosting Culver’s inaugural festivities in Iowa City, and now…)

(Disclaimer: The following attempt at political satire is meant to be taken in a positive light. The reader is solely responsible for anything that may be construed as negative and should read at their own risk.)

In lieu of a celebratory love fest, we should treat the presidential hopefuls as up-and-coming celebrities by hosting a political rendition of “American Idle.” Using the similar format to the ever-popular, “American Idol,” the hopefuls will perform a series of political acts such as an extemporaneous speaking game of “But I Don’t Have the Poll Numbers in Front of Me,” followed by an improvisation round of “Whose Democracy Is It Anyway?,” and then the final round when contestants get a chance to showcase their unique talents in “Stupid Politician Tricks.”

For all of you political paparazzis out there who hope the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau gets their wish, so you can snap a glimpse of Britney’s panty-less crotch, this should help appease you for now:
Don’t hold your breath too long; Political Fallout was able to contact Britney at home via telephone earlier today:

PF: What is your opinion about Iowa's Caucuses?

Britney: (long pause, babies crying in the background) I don’t know. I’ve never had one before. (hangs up)

Although if the gig does fall through, be sure to keep your cameras loaded; there’s always Hillary:

Sunday, December 31, 2006

“War on Toms” Update: Study Group Recommendations

Despite the limited “War on Toms” effort on my end, it appears the “Friend Gap” has dramatically widened over the past three weeks. I’ve only managed to befriend 21 people altogether, adding 11 friends in the past three weeks whereas Tom Vilsack has filled his war chest with 849 friends. Granted, I have landed some “friends in high places” which include Ed Fallon, RFK Jr., and just to spite Vilsack, I’ve befriended John and Elizabeth Edwards.

Meanwhile, My Space Tom’s numbers have grown exponentially, outgrowing the number of recorded births on our planet each day. If My Space Tom can maintain this pace, he will have befriended the entire earth’s population by the year 2025. Quite conceivably, any child born thereafter will already be My Space Tom’s friend before they’ve left the womb. Now that’s impressive!

If I want to win the “War on Toms,” it’s clear I can no longer depend on my adoptive “stay-the-course” strategy. My “War on Toms” policy must change, otherwise I risk losing my self esteem and the faith of those Friends who have already committed themselves to the “War on Toms.”

To help combat Tom Vilsack’s recent surge in “Friends,” I’ve formed a non-partisan “study-group” to look into the My Space quagmire and draft a report which offers suggestions on how I can close the ‘Friend Gap.” The group has finished conducting their studies and has made the following suggestions:

The My Space “War on Toms” Report* (excerpt):

Bring the Friends Home: This policy would call for friends to stop making friends on My Space, shifting the focus on making friends in person in lieu of acquiring virtual friends. Critics of this policy contend that too much has already been invested in the “War on Toms” and we cannot leave My Space until the mission is accomplished. According to My Space Tom’s Secretary of Defense, “A withdrawl of friends indicates a sign of weakness, sending the message to our enemies that we can live without virtual friends. Besides, an immediate withdrawl will certainly guarantee an outbreak of civil war between My Space and Facebook.”

Increase Friend Recruitment: The “War on Toms” has taken a serious toll on Friends by stretching friendships too thin, so it’s imperative to replenish and rebuild the active Friends foundation. One way to increase the potential recruitment base is to loosen up the My Space Friend requirement such as accepting convicted felons and illegal immigrants, and by lowering the I.Q. cut off for potential Friend applicants. Another tactic to consider is using My Space Tom’s “Window Dressing” ploy, which carefully screens Friends' comments and only posts comments from young, eye-alluring Friends – who are either scantily clad or looked as if they just walked off the set of “The O.C.”

Please help by joining the war effort at:

A Surge in Friends: This policy, albeit the least popular, would call for a surge in more Friends and deploying them to My Space hot spots (i.e. The Two Toms’ My Spaces). Critics fear this will only escalate the “War on Toms,” thus widening the gap.

*The full report is awaiting publication at Barnes and Noble Publications and will hopefully be released in the not-so-distant future.