September 30, 2008

Ha Ha, Fooled You!

The day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed a record 777 points, it's rebounded with a stunning 485 point gain.

I think some of us expected that a rebound would be a hundred points or so; but the third highest gain in history?

It's time to stop panicking, and to start figuring out some realistic solutions to the economic challenges we're facing.  While we can't allow the market to collapse, it's acceptable for Wall Street to suffer a stinging loss once in awhile.  Everyone forgot for awhile that markets go down, too; even real estate.

Instead of handing over mountains of cash, we should look into helping the stable institutions absorb the failing ones, and we should make sure that the ones we save are in fact worth saving.  We should make sure that those who brought us to the abyss are removed; there has to be a penalty for fucking up this big. We have just received an abject lesson that they haven't been earning their massive salaries; time to reign in these out-of-control compensation packages.  While I agree that it's perfectly acceptable to be rewarded for increased profits, those rewards should be spread through the entire company; an executive is only as good as his employees, never, ever better.

And we need to go after those who set us on this destructive path but bailed out with their "golden parachutes."  They have stolen from all of us, and they have to return their ill-gotten goods.  They are no better than pirates, and should receive treatment no better than that.

September 29, 2008

House Republicans tells Wall Street to "F--- Off and Die!"

John "the bonehead" Boehner has just admitted that the bailout failed, not on its merits, but because the House Republicans decided to engage in partisan politics. According to CNN:
"I do believe that the vote could have succeeded," Boehner said in a news conference. "But the speaker had to give a partisan speech ... that poisoned our caucus."
Frankly, it is no surprise to anyone that the GOP would be willing to let millions of Americans lose their jobs and their financial security just to bitch-slap the Majority Party. Heck, you think Boehner's going to lose his home as the stock market plunges like the comet that killed the dinosaurs?

Shocking, isn't it? We're all about to lose our retirement packages because the assholes who precipitated this mess are feeling all pissy about it. House Republicans are punishing the entire country because Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings.

Well, don't you believe it.

Only Boehner is a big enough asshole to vote down the bill simply because he hates the Democrats.

The rest of them voted against it because they just don't give a rat's ass that the economy is going in the shitter like burritos coming out of a Yankee in Tijuana.
"I fear that it is too much bailout and not enough work out."
-Rep. Jeb Hensarling,. R-Texas

“People’s re-elections played into this to a much greater degree than I would have imagined,”
- Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio

“This is a huge cow patty with a piece of marshmallow stuck in the middle of it and I am not going to eat that cow patty,”
- Rep. Paul Broun, R-Georgia

"If, like me, you came here because you believe in limited government and the freedom of the American marketplace, I urge you vote in accordance with your convictions..."
-Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana.
Well said, Mr. Pence. When your constituents are broke, unemployed ,uninsured and homeless, and need to come up with money to cover their medical bills, just remind them they are free to spend their convictions.

Conviction and $2 will buy you a cup of coffee. So far, anyway.

A Great Big Damned Expensive Nail

There's this old nursery rhyme, and it goes like this:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

It's a medieval parable, warning against the failure to invest in the future; the price of a nail isn't all that much; it's only a sliver of metal, and the time to install it is a few brief strokes of the hammer.  But it's always tempting to save a little here and there.  A little adds up.  Until your horse throws its shoe, and within moments you've lost it all.

So here's a rhyme for the 21st Century:

For want of a bail-out, the insurance was lost.
For want of insurance, the claim went unpaid.
For want of a payment, the business was lost.
For want of a business, there was no job.
For want of a job, there was no loan.
For want of a loan, the home was lost
All for the want of a bail-out.

Here's the thing;

A lot of people say we shouldn't bail-out these companies in crisis; their fat-cat executives should be made to pay, and  they are right.  But the thing is, those fat-cat executives retired. They collected their fat salaries, and padded it with fat bonuses, and when the stockholders - and the Feds - got suspicious, they bailed out with their golden parachutes to break their fall.

By standing by and letting the market fail, we're not hurting those responsible.  They've already cashed out of the game.  They're sitting in one of their four or five homes, toasting each other.

So who do we punish by NOT supporting the bail out?  You. Me. Your grandparents. Your children.  Your neighbors.  Pretty much everyone.  We're screwing ourselves as thoroughly as the Fat Cats did.

But it's worse than that:

Here's something you may not know; just because you don't have a policy with AIG, it does not mean that you are not covered by an AIG policy.

You buy car insurance from Car Insurance Company (CIC).  They take a look at their books, and realize that they might be a little close to the edge.  What do they do?  THEY buy insurance - from AIG.  If too many of CIC's customers have accidents, CIC is covered; AIG  covers the loss.  Only you're about to let AIG fail.  When they fold, they take out CIC, too.

Now you have no car insurance.  And all the cheap companies just failed along with CIC and AIG.  Be prepared to pay a LOT more for insurance, for a lot LESS coverage.

Multiply this times a few million.  Scary, huh? 

It gets worse

Let's say your company doesn't have enought capital to buy into a project.  You only have half of what you need.  So you partner with a company;  you agree to split the costs. Everything's fine and dandy, you've been making money off of it. Then your partner goes under.  You have a choice; cover the other half, or lose the project  Of course, you only partnered because you can't afford it alone.  You not only lose every dollar you've put into it to date, you lose all future profit that had been part of your business plan.  You did everything right, by the book, and you're out of business too.  Mulitply this by a thousand.

So we really have to bail the bastards out. 

Sucks to be us.

Salary caps? Damn Straight.

There should be lots of strings and conditions; and we need to ingore Paulson's pleas against compensation caps.  Paulson argues that that it would prevent bank executives from participating in the bailout.  Well, DUH. That's kinda the point.  If they will go under without participation, they will say yes.  If participation is a CHOICE for the bank, the choice should be NO, because obviously then can survive.  Hey, Hank, these bastards are working for the Taxpayer now.  They want a fat salary for their incompetence?  Get rid of the debt and pay off this loan I'm backing.  Until then, they can shut the fuck up.

The days of rewarding executives lavishly for mediocre performance are over.

It's Time to Address Obama's Ancestral Nationality

September 28, 2008

Do how does Sarah Palin stack up against History?

When Sarah "Bible Spice" Palin was interviewed by Charles Gibson a few days ago, she was asked if she had ever met a foreign dignitary. For once, she was refreshingly honest. "No. But I think that's normal." She then claimed that if we bothered to examine the careers of former vice presidents, we'd find that most had little or no exposure to either foreign dignitaries or federal service.

Fortunately, Lawrence Lessig as already done the research in answer to this question. He found that in fact, almost all Vice Presidents of the United States had backgrounds in either foreign relations or federal service, or both. And furthermore, only two Vice Presidents were comparable to Palin (or Palin is only comparable to those two), and one of them had been a governer slightly longer.

That was Spiro Agnew, who had been governor of Maryland before becoming VP for President Richard M. Nixon. Of course, he did not complete his term. He resigned and pleaded nolo contendre to charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

By the way, did you know that Sarah Palin collected "per diems" of over $17,000 dollars from the state of Alaska as its Governor? For those of you who have never had an expense account, a 'per diem' is a fee you are paid while you are travelling on behalf of your business. Palin, however, collected her per diems when she went home.

There was one Vice President that had less experience in government than "Bible Spice". That honor goes to Republican Chester A. Arthur, who prior to his appointment to VP had served as Collector of Customs for the Port of New York. On the other hand, he had more military background; he served as Quartermaster General for the state of Vermont during the Civil War. And back then, States really did run their militia, unlike today's National Guard. He also studied law and was admitted to the bar, and fought cases protecting Civil Liberties - pretty rare before the Civil War. It's not as prestigious as being second-runner-up in a pageant no one remembers, or as glamorous as being a TV weather girl on a local station, but it has its own cachét.

Arthur, it should be noted, ascended to the Presidency with the assasination of President James Garfield, one of the nine out of forty-six Vice Presidents to step into the position of President. That means that 20% of Vice Presidents have become Presidents through the loss of a President.

Palin stands to be the least experienced Vice President in the entire history of the United States for the oldest President in history of the United States; a cancer survivor with a medical file three inches thick.

How does the "hockey mom" with a "great rack" stack up? Not well. Not well at all.

A Film from Rejected Jokes

Do not drink while watching this video.

A product of Ben Schwartz and

Palin Season: Hiaasen Makes some Good Points

Carl Hiaasen has a great column in today's Herald. And he makes the kind of observations that Republican hardliners have come to loathe: accurate ones.
If Palin were a male candidate, for example, she would again be asked (as Charles Gibson did) why she took credit for killing Alaska's notorious Bridge to Nowhere, when in fact she supported the $223 million boondoggle until Congress turned against it.

If Palin were a male candidate, she might also be encouraged to discuss why she chose a high-school pal to head Alaska's Division of Agriculture at a $95,000 salary. Among her flimsy qualifications, the woman, a former real-estate agent, claimed an affection of cows.

If Palin were a male candidate, she'd be asked why she put another childhood friend in charge of a money-losing, state-subsidized creamery that was supposed to shut down until Palin reversed the decision. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the doomed dairy cost Alaskans more than $800,000 in additional losses before it was finally closed.

One has to wonder how it would be sexist to ask these questions; the answer, of course, is that sexism isn't in play. It's nothing but a red herring tossed in to the foray by an essentially dishonest campaign.

Why? Carl tells us why:

If she were a man, they wouldn't be praising her for being a hockey dad. They'd be calling her a lightweight who shouldn't be a hundred heartbeats from the Oval Office, much less one.

"It's PALIN Season!"

Bob Herbert of the New York Times offers up a thoughtful look at Sarah Palin, and her treatment in the press. After reviewing her recent interviews, and the McCain campaign mop-up operations following them, Mr. Herbert declares "open season" on the sometime moose hunter:
"The press has an obligation to hammer away at Ms. Palin’s qualifications. If it turns out that she has just had a few bad interviews because she was nervous or whatever, additional scrutiny will serve her well."
In light of this, I will no longer hold off writing about Palin's long list of flaws as a vice-presidential candidate. Bob Herbert is absolutely right; the pressure we put on her now is nothing compared to what she will face in the White House. "If she can't stand the heat," ...but this old homily might be construed as sexist, so I'll just leave it at that.

For my part, I will promise not to write articles simply to trash her and/or her family. I will try to balance out the realities of her family life against those of my friends and families, in a manner wholly consistent with my acceptance of those values held dear by me and my loved ones.

But I will smack her around when she makes statements that contradict her stated views. Or says something else really stupid.

Amputated Leg Takes A Walk

Maybe you've heard the story making its rounds; the rescue squad responds to an accident, the victim's leg is amputated at the scene, he's airlifted to the truama center, and his leg, well, isn't.

Instead, one of the firefighters takes it home in order to use it to train cadaver-sniffing dogs.  Supposedly, the intent was always to return it to the, um, rightful owner.

The firefighter, 14 year veteran Cindy Economou, is on leave pending an investigation (apparently there's some confusion on whether or not a supervisor suggested taking the foot).

But I know the real reason she's being disciplined:

If you give someone a foot, they'll take a yard.

September 27, 2008

Dictionary Fun with John & Sarah

 McCain and Palin have been tossing around the word "maverick" with some authority. "We're mavericks" they crow. "We aren't run by the party, because we have that maverick spirit!"

So just what is a maverick, anyway? I figure that like every other word or phrase they parrot, they have no clue what it really means. So I decided to look it up on Merriam-Webster:
Etymology: Samuel A. Maverick, American pioneer who did not brand his calves

1 : an unbranded range animal; especially : a motherless calf
I know, I know. This doesn't make any sense. Why would McCain and the GOP keep tossing this word around like it means something wonderful?

Well, it has to do with HOW those unbranded range animals losing calves became called "mavericks." The etymology leads us to the next step: they belonged to a man named Maverick.

Samuel Augustus Maverick was a Texas land baron back before (and during) the Civil War. Cattle was big business back then, and you had to track your stock; these days we use implanted micro-chips, but back then, you'd use a red-hot iron poker to burn a distinctive mark into the hides of your cattle. This was called a "brand." (and yes, it's the same as a "brand-name," but that's another discussion.)

Sam Maverick refused to brand his cattle. There are basically two prevailing theories on why he didn't do it:

  1. It allowed him to claim ANY un-branded cattle as his own, giving him claim to any cattle his neighbors hadn't gotten around to marking yet.
  2. He was too lazy to bother.
Of course, Maverick never discussed his reasons.

But I've been holding back, there is a SECOND definition:

2: an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party
The term went from being a term for un-marked cows to a term referring to someone who refused to follow the custom of marking them, and thence to someone who doesn't follow customs but makes his own way.

But back then, it was a perjorative. It was a step more polite than calling someone a jackass.

By claiming to be "a maverick," it's pretty clear that McCain and Palin are not identifying with unmarked cattle or lost calves. (Although come to think of it, in her recent interviews with the press actually do evoke the image of a lost calf, or a misguided cow, anyway). They are marking themselves as rugged individualists who ignore rules and customs.

Which begs the question; are they mavericks because they are dishonest, or because they are lazy?

Or maybe I'm completely off base, and they really mean the car. Maybe they are trying to insinuate that they are like an economy car that's been dolled up in a reasonably shallow attempt to be accepted as a sports car instead of a mediocre sub-compact chassis that's an exploding gas tank away from being a Pinto.

What do you think? Lost calf? Unmarked cow? Lazy cowboy? Unrepentant thief? 1970s muscle-car wannabe?

Me, I have a better term for John McCain:

loose cannon
: a dangerously uncontrollable person or thing

...and ANOTHER thing.

That "3 million dollar" figure; doesn't it strike you as odd that McCain is fine with sending 700 billion into Iraq, with spending another 500 to 700 billion dollars to bail out multi-billion dollar corporations, but he's all up at arms over 3 million dollars to study an endangered species?

Sure, 3 million is a lot to me. And I suspect it's probably a lot of money to you. But when you look at the economy, and the budget, and the budget deficit, it's literally a drop in the bucket.

And for McCain, it's also not a huge figure: he owns two condos in Phoenix that come to 4.7 million dollars. That's just TWO of his four to ten homes, depending on whose count you believe this week.

So, save the cost of a pair of condos, or some larger homes, but spend enough to give 4.4 million Americans free college educations at private institutions or 23 million Americans free college educations at public institutions on bailing out a bunch of very rich guys who each were paid much more than $3 million a year to run banks and manage stocks & bonds.

It just doesn't add up, does it? He'd have to cut 233,333 projects of that value to cover the 700 billion he's fine with spending. OR, he could end the war in Iraq. But he's not incensed about that.

For that matter, ONE PERCENT of 700 billion dollars is still 7 billion dollars; and the three million he's incensed about STILL isn't even a full percentage point of THAT.

My point isn't that we shouldn't be looking long and hard at the budget; we should. But we need to do so with a sense of proportion; a sense of proportion that John McCain no longer demonstrates.

Before you CUT the budget, you need to UNDERSTAND it.

One item (out of many) that jumped out at me during last night's debate (or at least the part I watched before I finally turned it off in disgust) was this comment by John McCain:
MCCAIN: "You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers' money. And it has got to be brought under control."
It immediately struck me that he was admitting his own ignorance. He had no idea why such a study received funding, no idea what the purpose of the study was, but he was willing to cut it. At no time did he bother to find out anything about the study; he simply assumed it was a waste of money and started ridiculing it. (I say this because if he HAD understood it, he wouldn't have said that "I don't know" what the purpose was. )

Isn't part of responsible stewardship of our national researches knowing why something is being funded? Sure, knowing that it is funded is important, but you should know why. It's not like it's all that hard to discover; the budget request has to include an explanation of the project being funded.

So I was very glad to see that the Sun-Sentinel actually did something useful and posted an analysis of both candidates' claims from last night's debates. And the last item in the list is the Bear DNA project.
THE FACTS: A study regularly mocked by McCain as pork barrel spending could help ease restrictions on logging, development and even the oil and gas drilling that McCain wants to expand. Montana ranchers, farmers and Republican leaders pushed for the study as a step toward taking the grizzly bear off the endangered species list. Former Montana Gov. Judy Martz, a Republican and a McCain supporter, said the bear had been used to block the use of the state's abundant natural resources, when all along the animal was plentiful. "If it is going to remove it from the list, it is money well spent," Martz said.
You see, one of the things preventing any sort of major industry in wildlife reserves are our own laws about endangered species. If the project threatens a plant or animal that is already on the verge of extinction, the industry coming in has to spend millions of dollars to either show that they won't really affect the endangered species, or spend millions of dollars to create a plan for mitigating the damage their project will do - perhaps they'll have to fund expansion of another habitat. Or maybe create a new habitat to relocate the species in the development zone. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars.

OR, you spend 3 million dollars to find out if the bear is actually on the brink of extinction. You do this not by counting bears, but by making sure they have enough diversity in their genetic material to re-populate with the existing population.

Look at it this way; if you have 300 hundred breeding pairs of bears, but they are all closely related, you get inbreeding; sickly bears that don't live very long. The population dies off, the ecosystem collapses, and now you have a problem you can't fix, regardless of what you want to spend. But if you have a hundred breeding pairs that are all distantly related, the can create a new, larger, and robust population of bears in just a few generations.

By eliminating the bear DNA project, McCain is actually adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of drilling, and might actually be preventing that drilling he wants from happening altogether.

And if he'd read the budget request, or researched the study, he'd know that. He has no excuse; the information was included in the budgets. It was on his desk. It was available to him.

Instead, he proudly admits that he's acting out of ignorance.
"I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers' money."
Yes, it was John. And you might have at least done us the courtesy of knowing what they were doing with it.

Haven't we had enough of presidents who act out of ignorance instead reading the reports that are placed right into their own hands?

McCain claims to be a maverick; but he's better described as a loose cannon.

Paul Newman Dies at age 83

Paul Newman was many things;
Actor, Movie Star, Race Car Driver, Husband, Father, Gourmet Chef, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist.

His Newman's Own Foundation can memorialize him better than I can. Me, I remember Butch Cassidy, Fast Eddie, Cool Hand Luke, and all the rest.

He was ironic, sardonic, and quietly brilliant.

How We All Got Screwed; A Basic Primer

A friend sent me a really cool slide show that explains the bank failure:

September 26, 2008

McCain's Solution to the Economy


Screw it. "All Pile on the Palin!"

What does it say about you when Katie Couric takes you to the mat?


No offense intended to Katie Couric, (who was hot until someone stole her eybrows.)  But when we think of Katie Couric, we think warm, fuzzy thoughts.  Couric was focused, and refused to let Palin off the hook. I get the impression that Palin's stupidity was kind of pissing her off.  You can almost hear Katie screaming "Come ON!  Can you REALLY be THIS FUCKING STUPID?"

I really tried.  I really wasn't going to join in on dumping on Palin for the sake of it.  But she's begging for it.

September 24, 2008

Dedicated to the Fort Lauderdale Water Department

Honest Republicans

You probably clicked through because you thought this was going to be some kind of joke (much like the Bush Presidency, or the selection of Palin as a VP candidate). But no, I am actually going to tell you about something that many liberals insist doesn't exist: honest Republicans.

An Honest Republican is one who reviews all the facts, adds them all up, and accepts the conclusions even when they go against their personal beliefs.

Dr. Larry Hunter is an economist and a Republican. He was in the Reagan administration, he served on Bob Dole's presidential campaign, and he helped write the "Contract with America." He's a staunch conservative by any measure. Back in July, he wrote an opinion piece for the NY Daily News, and its title says it all: "I'm a lifelong conservative activist and I'm backing Barack Obama"

When I first made this decision, many colleagues were shocked. How could I support a candidate with a domestic policy platform that's antithetical to almost everything I believe in?

The answer is simple: Unjustified war and unconstitutional abridgment of individual rights vs. ill-conceived tax and economic policies - this is the difference between venial and mortal sins.

He goes on to point out what Obama supporters (and rational people) have been saying all along; McCain is going to be a de facto extension of the Bush Administration.

But war in the middle east isn't the only issue he examined:
Plus, when it comes to domestic issues, I don't take Obama at his word. That may sound cynical. But the fact that he says just about all the wrong things on domestic issues doesn't bother me as much as it once would have. After all, the Republicans said all the right things - fiscal responsibility, spending restraint - and it didn't mean a thing.
Today, George F. Will finally comes around to the same conclusion; Obama is a better choice than McCain, despite the fact that Obama's platform is basically the antithesis of Will's own views. Will's reasoning is much like my own:
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

Mr. Will may have been moved by McCain's reaction to recent events, as his column mostly discusses exactly that. But perhaps it just distilled the absurdity of the GOP's claims when examined against reality.

He observes a typical example of that disconnect:
By a Gresham's Law of political discourse, McCain's Queen of Hearts intervention in the opaque financial crisis overshadowed a solid conservative complaint from the Republican Study Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the RSC decried the improvised torrent of bailouts as a "dangerous and unmistakable precedent for the federal government both to be looked to and indeed relied upon to save private sector companies from the consequences of their poor economic decisions." This letter, listing just $650 billion of the perhaps more than $1 trillion in new federal exposures to risk, was sent while McCain's campaign, characteristically substituting vehemence for coherence, was airing an ad warning that Obama favors "massive government, billions in spending increases."
It speaks volumes when even the most conservative pundits are supporting the "inexperienced" liberal candidate.

September 23, 2008

Clay Aiken is Gay, and I Don't Care.

AP PhotoThis is what passes for news? One of the most obviously gay men in entertainment since Liberace admits he's gay, and this is news?

The Herald has it in a prominent place on its home page, and the Palm Beach Post has only only a little less well-placed.

You want to know why people aren't buying newspapers?

This is why.


(AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

September 21, 2008

St. Lucie County School Board; Time to Stop Gibbering and Act.

I've been looking back at some past posts, and I realize that I haven't followed up on Wendy Portillo, the scumbag teacher who not only humiliated a child with learning disabilities in front of his classmates, but got his classmates to participate in the humiliation.  Her actions traumatized 5 year old Alex Barton.

When last we looked in on the St. Lucy County Schools teacher, she had been removed from contact with children pending an investigation.  That was on May 27th, the end of their school year.

So here we are, well into the new school year.  And Portillo?
District spokeswoman Janice Karst said Portillo still is on temporary assignment away from children until the investigation is completed. Because lawyers have gotten involved in the issue, the investigation is taking longer to complete, Karst said.
- TC Palm, August 25 2008
What a load of crock!  Sure, lawyers can complicate a case, but this case isn't that complicated. This isn't about lawyers, this is about the School Board being a cowardly group of incompetent hacks.  The facts in this case are clear, and the actions to be taken are equally clear.

Let's review the facts that are NOT in dispute:
  1. Alex Barton was undergoing evaluation for Autism.
  2. Wendy Portillo was aware of this.
  3. There were procedures in place to deal with his discipline issues.
  4. Portillo did not follow those procedures when she called Alex up in front of his classmates.
  5. Portillo was aware that what she did was not one of the procedures because she was part of the team that wrote those procedures.
  6. She did call Barton up in front of the class, and she did have his classmates tell him why they didn't think he belonged in the class.
  7. She did call for the other children to take a vote on whether or not he should stay in class.
  8. When the children voted that he should not stay in class, she did send him to the nurse's office.
  9. At no time did Portillo inform the Principal or Mrs. Barton about these actions; Mrs Barton discovered this only when she came to pick up her son at the end of the school day and was told to go to the nurse's office.
Those are the facts; they are not in dispute.  Portillo has admitted to all of them.  These are all a matter of public record (the police report), and don't post comments that ignore them or contradict them unless you can provide links to factual records that back up your claims.

The School Board only has to determine a few things:

Were there polices and procedures in place?

Was Portillo aware of those policies and procedures?

Did she follow those policies and procedures?

Were Portillo's actions reasonable given the and procedures that were place?

Now, look at those questions, and review the nine facts that are not in dispute.  The answers are all there, they are all obvious, and the conclusions are inescapable.

A lot of people have latched on to Alex's autism; they argue that this is a case about whether or not a child with autism should be in mainstream classrooms.  These critics are wrong; while that is an issue worth discussing, that is not the issue of this case.  The issue of this case is "Did Wendy Portillo act appropriately, given the guidelines that were in place at the time of the incident?"

Portillo, versed in the policies and procedures, supposedly educated in dealing with 'special needs' children,  threw out the rules and had his classmates judge him for something he had no control over.

Let's remove Autism from the discussion for a moment.  It's not actually relevant to this discussion; the real issue is a teacher's treatment of a student with disabilities.  Alex Barton has a physical disability; his brain is wired differently from yours or mine.  He can not control his out bursts; eventually, with treatment, those outbursts may be mitigated.  But they will not be reasoned with, any more than you can reason with tuberculosis, cancer or an amputated limb.

If Alex had Cerebral Palsy instead of Autism, we would not be having this discussion.  A student with Cerebral Palsy can also be a disruptive influence in class; they can have difficulty moving around, they can have a hard time communicating clearly.  Their physical demeanor can frighten or disgust other children.

If Wendy Portillo had asked her class to judge a child with Cerebral Palsy, her ass would have been fired immediately.

Another Feather in the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate's cap

'Road to Nowhere' opens in Alaska

Bridge to nowhere, Alaska, Sarah Palin
Hall Anderson / Ketchikan Daily News

Although Congress killed the funding for the 'bridge to nowhere' and Governor Palin killed the project (because the funding was lost), she still allowed the highway that was going to lead to the bridge to be built at a cost of 26 million dollars.
"Ketchikan* Mayor Bob Weinstein said the 3.2-mile road now is ideal for road races and hunting and possibly some commercial development. But with no bridge to serve it, that's probably about it."
- AP, September 20, 2008

This kind of insightful leadership is brought to you by the Grand Old Party.

McCain; Fundamentally Poor Judgement

You've seen the clip over and over and over again; McCain stating that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" in the face of the largest economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Not that he knows what those fundamentals are; he has stated in the past, on the record, that he has "a lot to learn about the economy."

Since then, he's had to backpedal, revise, and make stuff up in order to try and save face. By "fundamentals" he meant "American workers." In that interview when he said he didn't know about the economy, what he really meant was that he knew so much about National Security, that it was like he didn't know much about, that is to say, of course he knows about the economy, he just, as a former prisoner of war, is well-versed in National Security issues.

In the last few months, McCain can barely open his mouth without inserting his foot into it. And that might be overlooked if he didn't insist that what appears to be foot is something else entirely.

I find McCain a worse choice when I remember that this isn't the FIRST time there's been a huge economic failure during a Republican administration and McCain made bad choices. Remember the Savings and Loan Crisis from twenty years ago? More to the point, do you remember Charles Keating and the five senators who tried to interfere with what little regulation there was ?

One of "the Keating five" was Senator John McCain. While McCain was cleared of corruption charges and found to have not violated any laws, he was chastised by the Ethics Committee for his extremely poor judgement. He would later write that his involvment was "the worst mistake of my life."

He made a bad choice, and had to explain it away later.

Sound familiar?

September 20, 2008

Sun-Sentinel Misleads Its Readers; A Shameful Poll

The Sun-Sentinel completely abandons any pretense of having even a modicum of journalistic integrity by setting up the most ludicrous poll of 2008 to accompany a story on former US Rep (and current sleazebag) Mark Foley.

The article itself is a pretty cut and dried story; The FDLE announces that it doesn't have enough evidence to warrant filing charges against Foley.
"FDLE conducted as thorough and comprehensive investigation as possible considering Congress and Mr. Foley denied us access to critical data," Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said.
The crux of the matter is that while Foley may be guilty as sin, they can't prove it.
Last year, the general counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives refused to release Foley's government-issued computers without Foley's permission.
Not surprisingly, Foley, through his lawyer, refused to let them dig into computers paid for with your tax dollars. Would any company in the private sector have gotten away with such an action? Of course not! But when you start dealing with the federal government, especially Congress, justice takes a back seat to saving your ass.

By the way, the article does not address the fact that Foley would not have been protected had he worked in the private sector; that's another lapse, although not as large as the Poll.

This story DOES raise a question that DOES warrant asking for opinions. Just not the one that the idiots who pass themselves off as editors chose to mount:

Just so we're clear, the only way this poll makes sense is if you assume that FDLE had enough evidence to prosecute Foley but let him off the hook. That assumption is a direct contradiction of the story that it accompanies.

Instead of asking readers how they felt about Congress' choice to obstruct justice and let a pedophile run free, the Sun-Sentinel chose to insinuate that the FDLE had a choice on whether or not to pursue a case in which they have no evidence to present at trial, even though the Sun-Sentinel just published a story that flat-out states Congress acted to hinder the investigation.

Did the editor who signed off on this idiot poll even read the story it accompanies?

This is an egregious breach of ethics on the part of the Sun-Sentinel. Instead of enlightening the public, the Sun-Sentinel has chosen to create a false issue, essentially lying to the public.

Let's be clear; if FDLE takes this case to court, and it gets to trial, the case will be lost because they don't have the original source of the emails in the chain of custody. Without that key evidence, Foley would be acquitted. And because of double-jeopardy, we'd never be able to re-visit this case. He'd be scott-free. By declining to file charges now, there will be no trial. If a Congress in the not-too-distant-future is overcome with decency and morality and a love of justice, they could choose to make the computer and its evidence available to the FDLE, and Foley could still be brought to justice. If Congress can be made to do the right thing.

But FDLE can't force Congress to do a damned thing. Only public outrage has a hope of doing that, but the Sun-Sentinel has acted instead to direct outrage at the FDLE.

This is worse than a simple omission of fact; the Sun-Sentinel is misleading its readers. They ought to be ashamed.

September 19, 2008

A Tale from the Good-Deed-Doer-Guy

So I'm in Publix, with a cart full of stuff, trying to remember why I came back to this end of the store. I had something in mind, but now I can't remember.

This old Jewish man walks into the store; at least, he was wearing a yarmulke, so I assume he's Jewish. He's wearing a motorcycle t-shirt, and well-worn work pants, shuffling along in his well-worn boots. His face sort of folds into a generous white beard, but his blue eyes have a friendly twinkle. His face has familiar glazed look, and he catches me looking and recognizes my glazed look, and he shrugs and speaks to me.

"Two things I came here for. I can't remember either of them." He shrugs sheepishly, and smiles.

"Me, too. But mine was down one of these aisles...I think..." I nod at him, and roll my cart into an aisle, and he shuffles down another. No worries, old timer; my short-term memory is shot, too.

I come around the next aisle, and there he is again. He's apparently remembered that one of the items was mayonnaise. He's peering at the shelves trying to select the right brand and the right size. I'm still wracking my brains. Hmm. No, I have mayonnaise. Plenty of mustard....

"Excuse me, sir."

It's the old Jew. He's holding his mayonnaise. "Excuse me. Can I borrow your phone? I want to call home and ask the wife, but I, well, I forgot my phone..."

Smiling, I take my cell phone off my belt and turn it on (still not used to the keylock; I miss my flip-phone) and he dials while I try decide if I need hot sauce. I know I'm well into my bottle of Frank's...where is it? Footy's? Nah. Oooh, chili sauce from Tabasco, just add ground beef. Hmm. Chiiiiiliiiii. Seven spiiiiiiices. Mmmm. No.

"Hi, it's me. Yeah, I forgo- no, it's me. No. I forgot the ...I borrowed a gentleman's phone...I left mine there. I forgot it, yes. He's letting me call...listen, I'm at the A&P* - I have the mayonaise...what was the other...oh! Of course. No, I got it. I'll be home soon. No, I'll get it right now. Good bye."

The old Jew hands my phone back. "Thank you so much! Pepsi! She's pouring it over the chicken." He shrugs again, but it's clear he likes the cooking, so he's not questioning the recipe. "Thank you again!"

"My pleasure!" I say, tucking the phone away.

And it is. It's nice to be able to help out someone in need. I feel too smug about it, I know. But with all the fuss and bother over the upcoming elections, the state of the economy, the War against a Noun, it's nice to be able to reach out and do a small random act of kindness for complete stranger. He gets his soda (and a tasty dinner) and I cleanse my karma.

When I left the store, he was looking at the display of flowers, and pulled out a bright yellow bouquet; a small surprise for the missus, I suspect.

A pleasant Friday for everyone.

*We were not in an A&P; I think he was using it as a generic term for "supermarket." Kind of like "kleenex" for tissue or "Xerox" for photocopy.

September 18, 2008

The Pirate Song

Avast! George Harrison got in th' spirit; ye lubbers'll do the same, if ye know what's good for ye!

Arrrrrrrrrrr, ye Scurvy Dogs!

Get offen yer lazy backsides or I'll keelhaul the lotta ye.  It's the best day of the year, me hearties.  It's time t'be roustin' them bilge-rats what have been spewin' bilge and shows'em what fer.

September 15, 2008

In Which the Author Gets a Haircut

Part of moving is discovering "your" new places; the stores you'll be shopping at, the restaurants that you'll frequent, and so on.

This weekend, I found "my" barber shop; the Las Olas Barbershop.

Las Olas Barber Shot

Everything is right about the Las Olas Barber Shop. It's two doors down from "my" diner, the Floridian, it's open reasonably late so I can get there after work, it even smells right. It's the real deal, it's been there since 1951. That's even before Travis McGee found his way to Fort Lauderdale! You don't find a lot of Fort Lauderdale that pre-dates McGee.

And my barber was, well, kinda hot. You see, the barbers at the Las Olas Barber Shop are all women. Karli took a look at me as I sat in the chair, and immediately said "Neaten it up, right? Bring it over the ears and thin it out?" This is what I've told every barber I've ever had, and it's the first time I've ever had a barber use those words to me the first time I've been there.

And yes, she finished with hot lather and a straight razor to clean up the back of my neck. (If you've had a proper hair cut, you know how important this is.)

Trav would approve. And so do I.

September 14, 2008

Whopping Lies, and John McCain Approves Them All

Ed Krugman has been pointing out the steady stream of lies issued by the McCain Campaign since the beginning. Today he has an op/ed piece in the NY Times.

These lies are especially galling because they are so transparent; every single whopper spewed by McCain and his minions can easily be revealed. There's extensive documentation that refutes each and every lie. These distortions can not be accidental.

And if you don't like to read, here's a video that exposes some of those lies:

Obama/Biden compared to McCain/Palin

  • Occidental College - Two years.
  • Columbia University - B.A. political science with a specialization in international relations.
  • Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude

  • University of Delaware - B.A. in history and B.A. in political science.
  • Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

  • United States Naval Academy - Class rank 894 of 899

  • Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
  • North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
  • University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
  • Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
  • University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in journalism

(thanks to Steve Newport)

September 13, 2008

Nitpick-a-rama: Stupid Headline on CNN

While visiting CNN's website, I noticed this over on the side bar:

"24 corpses found shot in Mexico?!?" What sick bastard would shoot ONE corpse, let alone dig up two dozen to shoot? Why would anyone shoot someone who is already dead?

They wouldn't, and didn't. Someone shot 24 people, and their corpses were found later. They weren't corpses at the time they were shot. The facts of the story are very different than what CNN's headline would have you believe. Corpses were found, but no one had been shooting corpses.

Better headlines:
"24 shooting victims found dead"
"Corpses of 24 murder victims found"
"Shooting leaves 24 corpses"

September 11, 2008

September 11: Seven Years Later

On September 11, 2001, I had just moved from Fort Lauderdale to Coral Gables.

I had heard something about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, but I assumed it was a small plane in a tragic accident; I didn't really pay much attention because I was getting ready to go to work. I turned off the TV and got myself out the door.

As I got into my car, one of my neighbors was smoking outside the building. "Did you hear about the World Trade Center?" "Yeah," I replied, "did they find out what kind of plane it was?"

"Oh, man," he said. "You didn't hear? A second one just crashed into the other tower!"

Oh crap, I thought. It was an attack. Once is an accident, twice is an attack, no doubt about it. I turn on the radio as I drive across town.

As I pull into the parking lot at work, the first tower collapses.

We didn't have a TV at work - we were a theatre scene shop. But there was an old one in Props, so I dragged it out and plugged it in to a local station. Since people kept stopping at the gate, I turned it so people on the sidewalk could see it, if they wanted.

We worked a full schedule that day, although we didn't get much done. We all knew people up in NYC, most of us had lived there at one point or another. Gerardo, our scenic painter, kept coming up to look. He had spent a lot of time at the WTC; I think he worked there while he was in college up there.

The next few days were creepy; my route to work took me right by the airport; it was odd not seeing a single aircraft in the air. My step sister called to say that she'd been at the WTC subway station when the second plane hit; the alarms were going off, and the train immediately left the station. By the time she got to Rockefeller Plaza, she learned the building - like all the big buildings in New York - was closed. She walked home to Brooklyn. She had to cross at the Queensboro bridge because her normal route through lower Manahattan was closed off.

When she got home, her street was covered in litter; it was paperwork from the WTC. It had blown across the river, and settled on Brooklyn Heights like an early snowstorm.

So here we are, seven years later. I have just moved from Coral Gables to Fort Lauderdale. The man most responsible for the acts of terrorism is still at large, and largely unhindered. We've invaded a country that had utterly no involvment in those actions. We've alienated some countries that had been allies, we've de-stabilized the Middle East, wrecked our economy, and spread ourselves so thin that we can't deal with more crucial threats that have developed since the Idiot-In-Chief decided to topple a largely powerless dictator.

I've learned that I lost about 6 people I knew in the events of that day; 2 were on the jets, one was in the Pentagon, and the rest at the World Trade Center. They were not close friends; three had been classmates that I can sort of remember. One as actually a friend of a friend. But it's still unnerving to find you have a connection to such a disaster.

I've never blamed the current Administration for the events of That Day. They just happened to be the ones in the hot seat when it all went to hell. Neither do I absolve them: ultimately, we are NOT safer now. Our enemies have not been vanquished, our allies do not trust us, and those who were undecided now fear us. Our subsequent actions have validated every single negative comment ever made about America. We have become the conquerors everyone claimed we were.

Are we safer?

Ask yourself this question:

Do you believe that you would be safe wearing the American Flag alone on the streets of any country, anywhere in the world?

If you answer "yes," then you've successfully managed to ignore everything that has happened in the world in the last seven years. If you answered "yes," I hope that you're secure enough to forego voting in the next election; your fellow Americans would consider it a service.

September 10, 2008

Matt Damon takes the words out of my mouth UPDATED

Again, this isn't ME discussing Sarah "bar-cutie" Palin, it's MATT DAMON. That's Matt Damon, as in "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" Matt Damon.

UPDATE: Furthermore, it's THIS Matt Damon.

Annals of Unlikely Vehicles: the Caddy Hog

Cadillac BikeAt first, it might seem like a good idea: it's gotta use less gas than Cadillac convertible of any description.

Tooling down AIA on a sunny September afternoon, with your lady tucked behind you, must be a sweet ride...

Talk about a "soft tail"

... it's stable, with lots of room for your lady, and lots of trunk space for, well, stuff.

But then, you look at the fan mounted on front, and you realize that it's got to be a gas-guzzler: it has a radiator and fan, for chrissake!

And if you park it, I doubt it has a reverse gear; pushing it in or out of a parking space must be a sight to behold.

Still, it's not a bad way to cruise AIA on a bright sunny afternoon....

This one doesn't count... a post about Sarah "Bar-cutie" Palin because I'm not the one writing about Sara Palin. John Ridley is. His articles "Your Pocket Guide to Speaking Palin-guage (Vol. 1)" and "The Guide to the Conservative Palin-guage Vol.2 -- the People's Edition" are must-reads.

They are as entertaining as they are frightening.

"If you're a black single mother of 4 who waits for 22 hours after her water breaks to seek medical attention, you're an irresponsible parent, endangering the life of your unborn child.

But if you're a white married mother who waits 22 hours, you're spunky."

September 7, 2008

September 6, 2008

Saturday Musings.

I stumbled out of my hangover this morning to discover that my new home is outside the "cone of probability" for Hurricane Ike. Yay! I moved just in time!

Aw, crap, that hurt. I'm still a little hungover.

I don't really do a lot of drinking any more. (Hey! Quit laughing! I'm serious!) Last night I had meant to have a drink or two, then split. But it was 2 for 1 happy hour, and they didn't have my beer (I'm not snotty; can't have stuff with wheat or barley in it; Anheuser-Busch makes Redbridge for folks like me) so I was drinking Margaritas. I paid for one (which was two) and someone else bought me one (which was also two) and before you know it, I have no idea how many I've had, and cared even less.

I'll chug some more Alka-Seltzer and crawl back in for a nap....

September 3, 2008

My Second-To-Last Post on Sarah Palin

Actually, with any luck, this will be my last post; but in case something comes up, I'm leaving the option open.

On with the post:

The Ten Things I'm gonna say about Palin.

I really don't care that her daughter got knocked up by her teenage high-school-dropout boyfriend. It has nothing to do with Governor Palin's qualifications (or lack thereof) for the office of Vice President. Do I believe that a parent who did not instruct their child on the proper us of prophylactics is neglectful in this day and age? Yes, I do. But since we are not electing her as "Mom of the Year," it is not relevant.

I don't even care that Palin may have been knocked up herself when she married her high school sweetie, for the same reason as above. Would it be hypocritical to espouse no sex outside of the sanctimony of marriage if you had done exactly that in your own life? Yes. Do I care in the context of this election? No.

Stop describing Palin as a "former beauty queen." She didn't win any contest that any normal person ("people not related to her") gives a shit about. Lots of women have won pissant beauty contests; unless your pageant was on National Television and led to a Playboy spread, no on cares. Besides, it comes back to having NOTHING to do with qualifying her for the vice-presidency of the world's last remaining superpower.

While it is technically true that she has more "executive experience" than Obama Barack, she does not have more than any of the millions of Americans who have managed a store or business. Office building hold more people than live in Wasilla, Alaska. So do most shopping malls. While I'm sure it's a nice place to live if you like places that make Mayberry look positively cosmopolitan in comparison, it's a VERY small town.

And despite the nonsense dribbling out of Karl Rove's mouth, it's not the second largest city. Anchorage is the largest, 278,700 people. Fairbanks is the next largest at 31,342, followed by the State Capital of Juneau with 30, 737 .

She has barely been Governor long enough to have explored the full ramifications of that position. Infact, the first year would have been spent administering all the programs and budgets set in place by the PREVIOUS administration.

By continually referring to her as "Commander and Chief of the Alaskan National Guard," the GOP is making it very obvious to everyone that she is so lacking in any real experience that they have to pad out her pathetically thin resumé to give her even a hint of legitimacy.

US Senator Bob Graham, a former governer of my state, has run for Senate AND made stab at the Democratic nomination for President in the 2004 race, and do you know what phrase was never, ever used by Graham or his campaign? It was "as Governor, Bob Graham served as Commander and Chief of the Florida National Guard." Why? Because it's an incredibly pretentious thing to brag about.

If you are going to take the extremely lame approach of describing Palin as "Commander and Chief of the Alaskan National Guard," you'd better have a list of all the times she's had to deploy them in response to an emergency. (For the record, that would be NEVER. Palin has NEVER ordered her National Guard to do anything, ever. Not even to supply an honor guard.)

Speaking of the National Guard, I'm reminded that not only was George W. Bush "Commander and Chief" of the Texas National Guard, but he actually SERVED in the National Guard instead of going to Viet Nam to fight for his country. Actually, I should say "he served, on those occasions he bothered to actually show up." (This has nothing to do with Palin, but by boasting about the Guard, it brings this to mind. And does the McCain campaign really want another reason for the public to think about Lil' Bush in relation to the McCain campaign?)

The last time anyone cared about whether or not a candidate for national office hunted was Theodore Roosevelt. While I suppose it's nice and all that she happily guns down Bullwinkle on weekends so she can chow down on moose burgers during the week, no one is looking for a new meat supplier for the White House Kitchen. By the way, even Teddy become disgusted with the GOP, and formed his own party: the Bull Moose Party.

The Sexism Card is out of the game; it's out of play. You took it out of the game yourself back in March when you inexplicably made the short list of VP candidates.
"When I hear a statement like that, coming from a woman candidate, with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism, or maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, 'man, that doesn't do us any good.' ...I mean, work harder, prove yourself to an even greater degree that you're capable, that you're gonna be the best candidate.."
So no more complaints about sexism will be accepted from Palin, McCain, or the GOP brown shirts campaign staff.

How the GOP saves Saves SAVES you money!

They go with the Lowest Bidder Everytime!

Thanks to Chaz; he posted it first.

September 2, 2008

Breaker, Breaker; The Snowman is 10-7.

Jerry Reed, who played Burt Reynold's sidekick in the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies has died at age 71 of emphysema.

Reed had been a country music star before taking on film. He'd won a Grammy for "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1972 and had numerous hits, starting with "Guitar Man," which was later covered by Elvis Presley. Presley had problems getting the right sound, and Reed eventually came in and played for The King.

As Reed recounted:
"I hit that intro, and [Elvis's] face lit up and here we went. Then after he got through that, he cut [my] 'U.S. Male' at the same session. I was toppin' cotton, son."
He collaborated with Chet Atkins on two successful albums, Me & Jerry, and Me & Chet.

Reed appeared on numerous TV shows and several movies before making the classic buddy film. A favorite on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Alice, and even an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies. He had his own show in 1978, the short-lived variety show, The Jerry Reed Show.

Jerry did several movies with close friend Burt Reynolds before The Bandit movies, including Gator and WW and the Dixie Dancekings.

Reed had originally been cast as the Bandit, when Hal Needham let Reynolds read the script. Burt liked what he saw, and his presence kicked it up from a "B" movie to a mainstream release. The addition of a few more stars guaranteed a wider release, and the film became a fan favorite.

Reed eventually did get to play The Bandit in a later sequel. He wrote and recorded the movie's theme song, East Bound and Down, which also made the charts.

Those of us of a certain age will always remember Reed best as Cletus "Snowman" Snow, the wisecracking trucker, and perennial friend of The Bandit.

The Snowman is 10-7 and on the side; all you good buddies put that hammer down and mind them smokies.

September 1, 2008


I just had to share this story I found on the CBS4 website: they found it on the St. Petersburgh Times website.

Lorenzo Earl Knight gets caught breaking into car, and after a brief chase, he tries to hide in a port-o-let: but apparently, the 22 year old punk didn't realize that they could do this:

And that's all the poop on this story.

(photo by John Farrish)