Sherrod’s Softball

Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, was back on Capitol Hill today to testify about the Affordable Care Act and the troubled healthcare.gov website.  According to NBC News, was “grilled” by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate Finance Committee.

Except, apparently, for Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.  If the rest of the hearing was a grilling, Senator Brown must have been in charge of the backyard softball game.  NPR reports that Senator Brown asked Sebelius to talk about the law’s legacy:  “What are people going to say about the Affordable Care Act in five years and in 48 years?”

Huh?  The Secretary has presided over the most disastrous rollout of a federal program in living memory, the country is currently grappling with the fallout from that failure and other issues posed by the Act, and Senator Brown is channeling his inner Oprah and asking Secretary Sebelius to speculate about a legacy?

In fairness, these kinds of politicized questions aren’t unusual.  As the NPR story also reports, a Republican Senator used his entire allotment of time to make a critical speech, without asking Secretary Sebelius a single question.  What’s the point of having Cabinet officers testify if they aren’t asked questions?

These partisan antics are the kinds of things that drive me nuts about Congress.  There are dozens of entirely legitimate questions to ask Secretary Sebelius about how this landmark statute is working, why the website wasn’t better designed, and other topics of great interest to Americans who are trying to understand why the rollout of “Obamacare” could be so mishandled and what they must do to comply with a complicated statute.  Can’t members of Congress lay aside their party affiliations and their desires to make speeches, even once in a while, actually ask questions that should be answered, and get answers that will help them to decide how we can move forward?

Irrefutable Visual Evidence That Starburst Candy Sucks

We bought too much candy for the wet and rainy Beggars’ Night in New Albany.  Or, more precisely, we bought too much of the wrong candy — namely, Starburst.

IMG_1588On Beggars’ Night, we had our customary basket of multiple candy options to offer trick-or-treaters.  Only the youngest and most inexperienced ghosts and goblins grabbed Starbursts.  Every other Halloweener dug furiously through the contents of the basket, like a dog clawing the ground to uncover a bone, in a desperate attempt to find Butterfingers, Reese’s minis, or even Skittles.  When the last trick-or-treater had rung the doorbell, taken a sad look at what was left in the basket, and departed with a painful sigh, we were left with enough Starbursts to float a small battleship.

We didn’t want them around the house, obviously.  No problem! I thought.  I’ll just take them to the office, plop them next to the coffee station on our floor, and the perpetually hungry denizens of the fifth floor would feel the urge of their sweet tooth and consume all of the candy in the blink of an eye.  Donuts, other baked goods, and anything with chocolate have been known to disappear faster than the speed of light, and occasionally there are tense standoffs as secretaries, paralegals, and attorneys eye the last brownie or piece of birthday cake.  So I put the Starburst in a bag, took it to work, and left it to be rapidly consumed.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found this half-full bag of Starburst when I was leaving for the day at 6 p.m. tonight.  It is an unheard-of development that speaks volumes about the quality of the candy.  So I decided to conduct the crucial acid test and leave the bag for the overnight cleaning crew to enjoy.  If any Starburst are left tomorrow morning, it can only mean one thing:  Starburst candy truly sucks.

Toronto’s Crack Mayor

While Americans were going to the polls yesterday, Canadians were learning that the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, has finally admitted that he smoked crack cocaine.  You read that right — the mayor of Canada’s largest city concedes that he has smoked crack cocaine while in office.

The Mayor is a heavyset man who looks like Chris Farley, with a big belly, too-tight suit coat, and bad taste in ties, and his press conference yesterday was like a Chris Farley comedy routine.  Ford, who was elected in 2010, had repeatedly denied the crack smoking allegations, even after the police said they were in possession of a video that showed Ford doing so.  Yesterday, Ford explained he smoked crack “probably in one of my drunken stupors” about a year ago.  He’s also admitted to making other “mistakes” in the past, including being “hammered” at a street festival this past summer and drunk at City Hall on St. Patrick’s Day.  Ford claims he doesn’t even remember smoking the crack because of his drunken condition.

At the press conference, Ford apologized and said his condition is “a problem.”  No kidding!  But Ford nevertheless says he’ll serve out his term and run for reelection next year.  One of his supporters on Toronto’s City Council said “It is very disappointing to have the mayor of the City of Toronto admit to smoking crack cocaine.”  Even by Canadian standards of restraint, that’s a pretty remarkable understatement when a mayor admits to partaking of a highly addictive, criminalized drug on video.

These days, when situations like this arise, it’s customary for people to express sympathy for the guy with the substance abuse problem and urge him to get treatment.  It’s politically incorrect to say that Ford is a selfish clown who has embarrassed his city and shown he is completely unfit for office — but that’s the truth.  Even under Toronto’s “weak mayor” system, where the mayor doesn’t have much power, citizens have a right to a mayor who doesn’t smoke crack, get “hammered” at city events, and is capable of exercising rational judgment in discharging the duties of his office.  Any decent person, “hammered” or not, would resign immediately.  Even Tommy Boy, Matt Foley the motivational speaker, and other Chris Farley characters would recognize that.