Sunday, November 2, 2008

Welcome, Potheads And Atheists

It is not easy to work for a Member of Congress. The hours are grueling, the pay is mediocre and the politics raw. Yet, the experience is deeply rewarding for many reasons, especially if you're a staffer in the Washington, D.C. office.

The structure is nearly the same for every office: Chief of Staff, Counsel, Scheduler, Press Secretary, Legislative Director, Legislative Assistants and Staff Assistant. Each position carries a different and important duty so the Member can serve 750,000 constituents effectively.

But there is a responsibility common for every Congressional staffer who understands Capitol Hill: Always protect the boss from outsiders with bad intentions. Always.

All 535 Members of Congress have outsiders lurking. These are people who exist for the sole purpose of creating havoc and embarrassment. It's easy to recognize them. They're the kooks, the nut jobs, the wackos.

For example, the lobbies for atheists and potheads. Keeping the atheists and potheads away from the boss barely needs a staff discussion. They don't get in the door.

Except if you're Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand.

Meet Woody Kaplan, a shopping center magnate who lives in Massachusetts.

Kaplan sits on the board of a political action committee called Godless Americans. According to its website, the goal of Godless Americans is "mobilizing nonbelievers for political activism," which includes the removal of "In God We Trust" from our currency.

In addition, Kaplan is currently a major fundraiser for the Massachusetts Sensible Marijuana Policy Initiative, a ballot question that asks for the "decriminalization" of the plant this year. Among other demented provisions, it would replace criminal penalties with civil penalties for possessing marijuana.

Since her election, Congresswoman Gillibrand has met with Kaplan at least twice. He has contributed money to her campaign, which she refuses to return.

A scheduling meeting with a Member of Congress is precise. The boss wants to know the background of the person in consideration. Why? Because it may come back to haunt the Member if the meeting occurred with a person completely out of the mainstream. Like Woody Kaplan.

Who meets with someone determined to banish any mention of religion from American life? Why meet with an individual who devotes time and money toward a new law that empowers people to smoke a joint right outside your house or apartment without fear of heading to the slammer?

If Congresswoman Gillibrand didn't know Kaplan's background before she met with him, she needs to hire new staffers because she's surrounded herself with incompetents. If she did know Kaplan's background, voters should consider that fact on Tuesday.

Politics is about associations. Perhaps someone will ask Congresswoman Gillibrand about her association with Mr. Kaplan. Because we don't know how The Transparent Congresswoman happened to take money from, and meet with, a certified extremist.

We have more pressing problems than potheads and atheists in our country now. And that's why Kirsten Gillibrand should have blown off this Kaplan character and returned his money when she had the opportunity to do so.

"I'm not meeting with someone who believes in the precious 'right' of the bong hit or those who despise the mere mention of faith. Bring me someone who counts."

You can bet Congresswoman Gillibrand never uttered those words to her staff.

Philadelphia Freedom, Don't Shine On Me

They have no class. None.

Philadelphia's so-called sports fans and its professional athletes are not defined by brotherly love. They're defined by non-brotherly stupidity.

"World F---ing Champions!"

That's what second baseman Chase Utley bellowed when he took the microphone at the Phillies celebration of their World Series title on Friday. He was cheered, of course.

I wonder what the moms and dads who brought their children to the event thought about Utley. There was definitely no advance "ear muffs" warning from Vince Vaughn a la Old School before Utley opened his mouth.

Like Utley, shortstop and designated dimwit Jimmy Rollins could also not contain his no-class act. He ripped the Mets.

Here the Phillies defeat the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays for their first World Series triumph in 28 years, and Rollins is trashing . . . the Mets. Because the Mets took 11 of the 18 games this year against the Phillies, the only team in Major League Baseball history to lose 10,000 games. They can't lose another 10,000 fast enough and wallow in more misery.

Watching a Phillies game is also watching a bunch of catatonic cultists. They boo everything and everyone. Even in the aftermath of the Phillies win, the fans were still booing the mere mention of someone or something they didn't like.

What a pathetic bunch of "fans." In the wake of a glorious win, they can't control themselves. These people need help.

Utley and Rollins are the perfect no-class Philadelphia professional athletes. They could also play hockey and football in Philadelphia.

This is a city so maniacal about the Philadelphia Eagles that the old Veterans Stadium had a court installed in it to immediately administer justice to its criminal fans. If you wore a Giants or Cowboys jersey into the old Vet, be prepared for a potential assault. Or, at the very least, for a beer thrown on you.

The Flyers won two Stanley Cups with a bunch of aspiring convicted felons and no-teeth big mouths. "The Broad Street Bullies." Right. Goons On Ice was more like it.

How fitting that it was my team, the New York Islanders, and Bobby Nystrom scoring an overtime goal to beat the Flyers in Game Six to win the 1980 Stanley Cup. At least he spared Philadelphians a riot if the Flyers won.

Philadelphia fans and athletes deserve to celebrate another major professional sports title when they can achieve civility. That means never.