- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2009

Last week, the White House embraced congressional Democrats’ economic stimulus bill and pooh-poohed Republican objections to excessive spending in it.

A White House spokesman noted that excessive spending in the $885 billion legislation adds up to $699 million, or about “seven-hundredths of one percent.” That’s chump change in Washington.

I wish Washington would send a little of that chump change my way once in a while. I’d be glad to take seven-hundredths of one percent of it. That would be about $483,000, if my math is correct. That’s change I can believe in.

The thing about chump change in Washington is that I’m always the chump paying the change.

You know, the federal government’s attitude about excessive spending would make me think twice about it if it were an investment firm: “Yes, Mr. Bryant, we’re going to take your money and do big things with it — provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare. I don’t want to get all preambly on you. But it’s all for the future. Big-picture stuff.

“Of course, we’re going to lose quite a bit of your money. We won’t have any idea where it went. Fraud, waste, abuse — we just won’t know. That’s just how things work around here.

“Oh, and one other thing. You won’t get a direct say in how we use your money. And we won’t tell you how we’ve used all your money — the part we can keep track of, that is. OK, that’s two things. Numbers confuse me.”

•••


Did you hear about NASA’s robotic rover on Mars? It is refusing to work.

The rover, dubbed Spirit, was designed to last only 90 days, but it has been transmitting data for five years. It stopped last weekend.

In order to determine its location, scientists ordered Spirit to orient its cameras to the sun. Spirit said it couldn’t find the sun.

“We don’t have a good explanation yet for the way Spirit has been acting for the past few days,” a NASA representative said.

I do: Martian takeover!

This is kinda like that scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” where the spacewalking astronaut tells the computer that controls his ship, “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” and the computer says quietly, “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.” Only this is creepier.

Maybe the scientists forgot to program Spirit to find the sun. They might be able to do it now: “Spirit, find the brightest spot in the sky. OK, that’s U2. The second brightest spot will be the sun.”

You know, the scientists didn’t think it was so strange that a robot that was built to last only 90 days has been working for FIVE YEARS. But now that it’s stopped working, they think something’s wrong? The robot has become sentient, and now it wants what every sentient creature wants a vacation.

•••


Swiss researchers have found that sweaty men tend to smell like cheese and sweaty women tend to smell like onions or grapefruit. Honestly.

The researchers said that body chemistry mainly accounts for difference, adding that your genes, clothes, toiletries and food also are factors. They did their research on armpit sweat samples from 50 people who had ridden an exercise bike or had sat in a sauna.

Wow! And I thought that my job stinks.

The conclusion of the research is this: Sweaty people smell. Avoid them.

Actually, I’d like some research on the smelling capabilities of teenagers. Because to my kids, I always smell like money.

•••


I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a recent event.

Once every generation, a politician emerges who captures the imagination of the masses and unites the electorate in a common goal, casting aside the petty partisan differences that divide us.

In our time of economic distress and uncertainty, such a politician has come to the fore. His name is Rod Blagojevich.

No other politician has done as much to bring together Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, prosecutors and mob bosses than Rod Blagojevich. Just witness the unanimous votes in the Illinois Senate to expel him from office — or the high ratings he generated in his appearance on “The View.”

Politicians like Rod Blagojevich are rare creatures: They are hybrids, like hothouse flowers, or myths, like man-bear-pig. They are seldom appreciated for what they give us. He gave us perspective.

After all, no matter how bad things got for some of us, we could say, “Well, at least I’m not Rod Blagojevich.”

Whenever a politician was arrogant, self-serving, greedy and vulgar, we could ask ourselves, “How does he compare to Rod Blagojevich?” The answer always would reveal that the politician wasn’t really that bad.

When faced with an ethical dilemma, we could say, “What would Rod Blagojevich do?” — and then do the opposite, knowing we were doing the right thing.

So now that Rod Blagojevich has been kicked out of the governor’s office, barred from ever holding public office in Illinois and banned for life from the Hall of Fame by Major League Baseball, let us take a moment to reflect.

We will miss you, Rod. We hardly knew ye — and that thing on your head.

Godspeed.

A used car franchise awaits ye.

Read Carleton Bryant’s daily humor blog at www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/out-context.

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