Following the lead of Congress, which in itself is an oxy-moron, I'm taking at least the month of August off from the day-to-day grind at Capitol Hill Blue.
It will be a working vacation. I have a full schedule of events relating to citizen journalism and the future of online journalism, starting with the Media Giraffe Conference in Washington next week and continuing with involvement in a number of citizen's journalism organizations.
I wish I could say an incident last week was the first time the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act has been used to prohibit me, as a working journalist, from doing my job.
Unfortunately, the Blue Ridge Parkway Ranger who threatened me with arrest if I photographed him subjecting attendees of FloydFest to unreasonable search and seizure is only the latest time the Act has been thrown in my face and used to cover up the acts of a government that's out of control.
The last place you expect to run into a federal government goon squad is the Blue Ridge Parkway, the scenic highway that runs through Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
But the abuse of power spawned by the Bush administration and the rights robbing USA Patriot Act runs rampant throughout the federal bureaucracy, as I learned this week while traveling the Parkway to get to an assignment photographing a summer music festival for my newspaper.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales returned to Capitol Hill Tuesday and did what he always does when he testifies before Congress.
Gonzales lies so often that reporting the fact that he lied is no longer news. If the attorney general's lips are moving, you can bet he's lying.
His latest around of lies, claiming he didn't brief lawmakers about a terrorist surveillance program directly contradicts a four-page memo from the office of the national intelligence director's office shows Gonzales did, in fact, discuss the program with eight Congressional leaders.
Ordinarily, Sunday's news talk shows bore the hell out of me. Most of the time we get nothing but partisans from each side spouting carefully-rehearsed talking points in monotone.
Sunday's Meet the Press, however, broke out of the ordinary with an incredible display of anger between opposing sides on the Iraq war, reflecting in large part the anger that has split this country because of a despotic President who send American men and women off to die for a war based on lies.
The stage is set for a showdown between President George W. Bush and Congress. In the end, we might see who has the biggest balls…or perhaps if anyone has any at all.
At issue is whether or not two former White House aides will be allowed to testify before Congress in the probe of the politically-motivated firings of U.S. attorneys. Bush, as expected, claimed executive privilege but said the aides could meet, behind closed doors, in "off the record" sessions on the Hill.
Official Washington is holding its collective breath once again.
George W. Bush didn't issue any new pardons or signing statements. We haven't thwarted another terrorist attack (assuming, of course, that we've ever thwarted any in the first place) and the bombers are not headed for Iran…yet.
No, the whispers in the cloakrooms of Capitol Hill and over drinks in the bar at The Willard Hotel concern who's name may or may not be on Deborah Jeane Palfrey's phone list - the list that shows who did or did not use her ring of high price prostitutes.
At least once a day some reader passes on a link to a Keith Olbermann commentary about George W. Bush.
Olbermann hosts Countdown on MSNBC, a fast-paced hour that is part news, part tabloid, part Entertainment Tonight and a lot of his outsized ego.
Over lunch last week, a friend speculated that Vice President Dick Cheney must have some interesting Polaroid photos of President George W. Bush.
"Nothing else explains why Cheney has so much power," she said. "He's got something to hold over Bush."
Interesting thought. Like most politicians, Bush has a closet full of skeletons, although most have been thoroughly vetted by now: Avoiding the Vietnam War by hiding out in the Texas Air Guard, hard drinking, rumors of cocaine use, etc.
So what's left for Cheney to know? What could the Polaroid shots show?
In 1983, as chief of staff for a newly-elected member of Congress, I interviewed many applicants for jobs in our office.
Some were earnest, sincere-sounding youngsters who said they wanted to "do something to help America." I helped America by not hiring them.
Others were shopworn Capitol Hill veterans who had never worked outside of government. Didn't hire them either.
Still others were recent law school graduates looking to work for low wages to get a foot in the door. No jobs for them in our office: Too many lawyers in Washington already.