Hey there, you! It's been, what, a year? I don't think I've seen You since we named You Person of the Year 2006. What did we praise You for again? Oh, right: "for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game." Remember? You wrote about it on Your blog! We cornered the world market in reflective film for all those mirror covers! Good times, those. Hey, You've lost weight, haven't You?
So I see You've been flipping through this issue. Ahem. This is a little awkward. Well, as You can see, we ... we went in another direction this year. Please don't take it personally. We still love You. But let's face it: You had kind of an off year. It's not like You ran for President or anything. O.K., a few of You did, but to be fair, Rudy was already Person of the Year once...
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Although many neighborhoods have been dealing with increases in homicides and other crimes, there were no slayings or shootings in the city over the weekend, said Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes, who oversees patrol operations. There were two serious stabbings, but neither was fatal, she said.
"It's been a while since we had no shootings," Groomes said, crediting the extra police presence for curtailing the usual weekend gunfire.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier began All Hands on Deck in June, increasing police presence in concentrated time periods in hopes of deterring crime and improving community relations. Most officers worked a pair of eight-hour shifts between Friday and Sunday mornings, including many who usually are assigned to desk duties.
So far this year, homicides across the city have increased 14 percent, armed robberies are up 25 percent and shootings and other assaults with guns have risen 9 percent, according to preliminary figures. Lanier has cautioned that the department's record-keeping could be off by as much as 10 percent because of continuing problems with databases.
Monday, December 10, 2007
But many of the firm's clients have never been listed on its Web site or identified publicly by associates, and two of the most controversial arrangements among them surfaced only in recent weeks. One involved a 2005 agreement to provide security advice to the government of Qatar. The second stemmed from a deal to assist a partnership proposing a Southeast Asian gambling venture. Among the partners were relatives of a Hong Kong billionaire who has ties to the government of North Korea's Kim Jong Il and has been linked to international organized crime, according to a Chicago Tribune report.The first one... well, we've seen that before. The second needs a bit of restatement:
Giuliani (has interest in) Firm (does business with) Partnership (which includes) Relatives (of) Billionaire (has ties to) DPRK (controlled by) Kim Jong Il.Noting that the "has ties to" link could represent another series of connections as well, anybody can probably have closer "links" by eating lunch at the Panda Express.
Six degrees of separation may be a fuzzy concept, but it is certainly a good starting point.
The latest tussle concerns a fiscal 2008 appropriations bill for three departments: Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services. The difference between Congress and the White House on this is $21 billion, figures the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a Washington think tank. That's about 5 percent of all domestic appropriations, 1.8 percent of all federal discretionary spending ($1.14 trillion, a sum that includes defense spending), and far less than 1 percent of the $2.9 trillion total budget...That's a lot of numbers. Here's what's missing: the actual size of the bill itself. You can compare the dispute to a lot of things: GDP, tax revenues, or the market capitalization of Coca-Cola - but that still omits the single most relevant percentage in the debate: 15%.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (cited by the author), the President proposed $140.9 billion in spending. The disputed $21 billion represents a 15 percent increase over that proposal - far beyond any measure of U.S. inflation. Especially with the federal government operating at a deficit, a 15 percent increase in any area should be cause for concern. Anywhere outside of government, it would be outrageous.
Oddly enough, at $146.19 billion today, Coca-Cola's market capitalization is roughly equivalent to the appropriations bill discussed above.
Friday, December 07, 2007
So if I have some moldy food in my refrigerator, but only one container, I should preserve it too?
The District government conferred landmark status on a 36-year-old downtown church today despite impassioned opposition from congregants and community leaders who dismiss the building as an architectural blight.
The Historic Preservation Review Board's 7-0 ruling bars the Third Church of Christ Scientist from redeveloping their fortress-like sanctuary on 16th Street NW, two blocks north of the White House.
While several preservation board members expressed reservations about the church's modernist appearance, they said the building is among the city's most significant examples of Brutalism, an architectural movement of the 1950's and 1960's that espoused the use of roughly cast concrete.
"Preservation isn't always about whether we like and not like buildings," board member Denise Johnson told the audience at the hearing before voting. "You can learn enough to have an appreciation for it."
If the District government finds this eyesore so valuable, it should be purchased outright, not regulated into uselessness.
Congregants said they were unsure whether they would appeal the ruling to preserve their home, an octagonal concrete structure, with high, windowless walls, standing on a spare, unadorned plaza.
But they also said that it may be too costly to repair a 400-seat sanctuary that's no longer suitable for a church that typically draws 40-60 Sunday worshipers.
Click here for a photo.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Every visitor should be chaperoned. That would make it virtually impossible for a sex offender to commit a sex offense (or for anyone to commit any offense). You don't need special technology - you need eyes.
The Prince William County public school system yesterday rolled out a computerized security system to check for sex offenders at campus entry points and keep tabs on when visitors come and go, the latest sign that pen-and-paper visitor logs at front offices may be on the way out.
The debut of V-soft (for "visitor, student or faculty tracking"), also known as the Raptor, on 86 Prince William campuses comes as other schools in the Washington region are taking similar steps. The Raptor, devised by a Texas company, scans government-issued identification cards and checks them against a database of listings of 460,000 sex offenders from across the country.
School systems in Fairfax and Montgomery counties are piloting similar security programs or have made proposals to install them in coming years. Many Anne Arundel County schools use the Raptor, which so far has alerted officials to three sex offenders and led to one arrest.
Some immigrant-rights advocates worry that a move to check IDs in Prince William will be linked to the county government's recent crackdown on illegal immigrants, even though the Raptor is not plugged into any immigration database.
"Some people already spoke to me saying that they feared that their immigration status will be checked," said Ricardo Juarez, general coordinator of the D.C.-based Mexicanos sin Fronteras, or Mexicans Without Borders.
School officials stress that the only government databases being checked are sex-offender registries...
Even if the Raptor identifies a visitor as a sex offender, the person might be allowed to stay on school property depending on the state and the offense but must be chaperoned at all times by school officials.
The article makes no reference to any credible threat. In fact, the system makes no effort to counter obvious credible threats. By only checking against sex offender lists, the system will miss known thieves, robbers, and other thugs. Theft is immeasurably more likely than the panic-inducing sex offense (purse snatchings vastly outnumbered rapes at my grade school).
[Some parents] questioned whether the system was worth the $130,000 cost.
"I'd rather give my teachers more money in their paycheck," said Ellsworth Brown, whose daughter attends Enterprise Elementary School in Woodbridge. "Is there a credible enough threat of sex offenders trying to enter the schools to warrant this deployment?"
If enabling arrests is a selling point, how about checking against outstanding warrants? Unpaid parking tickets? Overdue library books? There's a lot of potential here, but using computers to create such a false and limited sense of security isn't living up to it.
My recommendation to Prince William County: stop watching Law and Order SVU.
The whole federal government should follow the Congressional calendar. America would be better for it.
A 2008 calendar distributed to congressional offices Monday shows the House holding five-day weeks only three times next year, exposing Democrats to charges that they are backing away from a pledge to work harder than Republicans did when they ruled the House.
"You have to hand it to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for... rewarding themselves with another broken promise," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "With a record low approval rating... you would think they would start getting to work instead of planning extra vacation days."
Next year's planned schedule... shows the House holding four-day weeks most of the time, arriving on Monday night and leaving Thursday, or arriving Tuesday night and leaving Friday.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
The Spokesman Review reports:
WSU is located in Pullman, Washington - 75 miles south of Spokane in Whitman County. The article never addresses why WSU would have hosted the event when at least three universities are actually located in Spokane County. (And at least one recognized the importance of Vice Presidents when it endorsed Al Gore in 2000.)
Washington State University's push to host a national political debate in Spokane wasn't snuffed out... by a search committee. The snub was self-inflicted.
Michael Tate, vice president of equity and diversity at WSU, announced... that Spokane had been passed over in its bid to host one of three presidential debates next fall.
But he failed to mention that WSU had been offered the chance to entertain the only vice presidential debate of the 2008 election, which attracted more than 43 million viewers in 2004 when Dick Cheney squared off against John Edwards.
"We had an offer to host the vice presidential debate," Tate confirmed, "but we decided, with the focus we had right from the beginning of getting one of the three presidential debates, that we were just not in the position to accept the vice presidential debate."
...officials in St. Louis, which got the vice presidential debate after WSU turned it down, were elated to receive the national attention by default.
"Spokane turned it down, great. St. Louis will take that business," said Donna Andrews, public relations director of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.
[After being defeated in his election bid] Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession said... he was aware of WSU's decision and supported the call.
Because of this laziness, WSU and Spokane should be forever barred from holding such events.
Tom Keefe, a former Spokane County Democratic Chairman [and failed candidate for Congress], called Tate's decision a "blunder."
"I think beginning with the Clinton-Gore relationship, and clearly with the Bush-Cheney relationship … the vice president in the modern term is an important player," Keefe said. "For Washington State University to turn that down tends to confirm Washington State University's own self image as a second-rate place."
Curt Fackler, Spokane County Republican Chairman, called it "the wrong decision."
"Anytime you can be on the national stage and show off your area, that's a good opportunity," Fackler said.
Harry Sladich, director of the Spokane Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, worked with Tate to research the potential impacts and benefits of Spokane hosting a debate. He learned from a reporter Tuesday of WSU's decision.
Sladich said his organization focused its research on the impact the presidential debates. It never talked to city officials who previously hosted vice presidential debates.
"I'll bet the cities who hosted the vice presidential debates didn't have near the impact," he said. "We would rather save ourselves for another day when we can get a presidential debate."
Instead, no debate will held at a location noticeably west of the Mississippi.
A member of Sladich's own staff indicated seven months ago that the bureau was considering the chance of landing the vice presidential debate. Tim Rhodes, a convention sales manager for the bureau who worked with WSU on the application, told The Spokesman-Review in April that Spokane has a track record of success hosting such events.
"It doesn't get much bigger than a presidential debate or a vice presidential debate," Rhodes said at the time. "I don't think we will ever host a Super bowl, so next to that, this is big."
Friday, November 30, 2007
Speed restrictions that were put in place this morning, Friday, November 30, for safety reasons were lifted at 8:10 a.m. The fall leaves combined with the morning dew caused unusually slippery conditions on Metrorail tracks, so trains were operating at slower-than-usual speeds during the morning rush hour from 5 until 8:10 a.m.
Customers experienced only minor delays of between three and five minutes as a result of the slower-moving trains.
Trains, which operate at speeds in the 55 mph range in some areas of the Metrorail system, were temporarily restricted to a maximum of 30 mph in several segments of the rail system. This directly impacted 27 of the system's 86 stations.
The leaves have lingered on trees longer than usual this season, and this year as they continue to fall, they get crushed onto the tracks by train wheels. The combination of the crushed leaves and morning dew has resulted in difficult braking and accelerating conditions for trains. Metro officials, who have been carefully monitoring morning weather conditions, slowed down the vehicles to improve safety conditions.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
It is general knowledge that Louisiana Democrats are corrupt, but after failing to attract their own convention, why would they think they own the Commission on Presidential Debates too?
The Commission on Presidential Debates has picked Oxford, Miss.; St. Louis; Nashville; and Hempstead, N.Y., as the sites of the presidential and vice-presidential debates in the general election campaign next year.
New Orleans took offense at its omission, with a leader of one Louisiana advocacy group saying she had been told that the city had not recovered sufficiently from Hurricane Katrina to act as host of such an event. New Orleans was one of 16 finalists and has attracted major conventions since the hurricane devastated much of the city more than two years ago.
The debates have become a huge traveling road show, with a cast of 4,000 extras from the worlds of politics and the news media. In the case of Oxford, which has only 700 hotel rooms, overnight visitors will be bused to Tupelo, Miss., and Memphis.
In addition to Oxford, where the first presidential debate is to be held Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi, presidential debates are scheduled for Belmont University in Nashville on Oct. 7 and Hofstra University in Hempstead on Oct. 15. The vice-presidential debate is scheduled for Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 2.
The omission of New Orleans drew a sharp reaction from Senator Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, who said the commission had "lost sight of the public interest it was chartered to serve."
More importantly, if geography is the big issue, why aren't there any debates in the West?
Three of the four locations, in three contiguous southern states, are no more than 370 miles apart - close enough to all be in the same state. The locations represent the deep interior of the Confederacy, plus a suburb of New York City.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
It was only the first of six such hearings, but the choice of location (miles from any Metro station) is a bit bizarre.
Only four riders showed up to voice their opposition to the largest increases Metro has ever proposed in rail fares and parking fees.
One rider blamed the small turnout on the location, a conference center in Reston, that was not easily accessible by bus or rail. The rider said she could not even find it on MapQuest. Metro board member Catherine Hudgins, who represents Virginia, acknowledged that it was possible the location might have contributed to the small turnout.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I was lucky enough to make it through the Pentagon and cast my vote and undervote before Virginia's polls closed shamefully early.
Voter turnout in Alexandria was low - just over 20 percent - but Democrats voted in sufficient strength to send all five local incumbents back to Richmond.
The only truly contested race was in the 45th House District, where Democrat incumbent David Englin was challenged by Republican [and former Democrat] Mark Allen. Though Allen ran a well-funded, well-organized campaign, the results were the usual: Englin got 62 percent of the votes cast, and Allen received 38 percent of the votes cast. Allen won only one precinct, City Hall.
The only excitement came when Republicans and Democrats went to Circuit Court at just after 5 p.m. to ask for the polls to remain open after 7 p.m. because of a fire at the Pentagon Metro station.
"We were told that the Circuit Court had the authority to keep the polls open, but Judge John Kloch, who was on duty tonight, said he wasn't sure he had that authority," said Susan Kellom, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee.
According to [Tom Parkins, Alexandria's Voter Registrar], Virginia Code speaks about what a voter registrar is supposed to do if the polls are kept open by the Circuit Court, but, "apparently the lawyers couldn't find the Code section that gives the Circuit Court that implied authority."
"I didn't think they were going to keep the polls open for something like a fire in the Metro because that would be like keeping them open because there was an accident on I-395. The polls are usually kept open past regular closing time because someone in my position screws up and lots of voters are precluded from voting. That certainly wasn't the case here," Parkins said.
The real discovery of the night was that I was able to confirm that while Alexandria's voting machines don't allow undervotes in single-race elections, they are allowed in multiple-race elections.
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - Defense attorney Lisa McCalmont was well-known nationally as an outspoken critic of lethal injection and amassed a trove of information about problems with the three-drug cocktail that is at the very center of a case the U.S. Supreme Court will hear early next year.
Colleagues say McCalmont, 49, was looking forward to the Supreme Court case as a momentous event in her career.
But then, last week, she hanged herself at her home in Norman - a suicide that stunned and baffled some of those who knew her.
...She left no suicide note.
At the time of her death, she was a consultant to the Death Penalty Clinic at the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, and worked passionately to save the lives of death row inmates. She advised attorneys across the country who were working on challenges to lethal injection.
McCalmont was not directly involved in the Kentucky case before the Supreme Court, in which two condemned men claim lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
But colleagues said she helped lay the groundwork for similar challenges in other jurisdictions. She argued that if the drugs were not properly administered, the condemned could suffer excruciating pain without being able to cry out.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
The federal government continues to operate on a continuing resolution as the Democrat Congress has failed to pass any appropriations bills for the fiscal year that began October 1st.
The House majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, told fellow Democrats this week that the House would not be in session next year on Fridays, except in June for work on appropriations bills.
And on Friday, President Bush once again hammered Congressional Democrats, accusing them of failing to meet basic responsibilities like approving annual budget bills and confirming his nominee for attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey.
"This is not what Congressional leaders promised when they took control of Congress earlier this year,” Mr. Bush said. “Congress needs to keep their promise, to stop wasting time, and get essential work done on behalf of the American people."
On Wednesday, the House cast its one-thousandth roll-call vote of the year, the first time that it reached that mark since the Constitution was ratified. Democrats hailed the occasion, while Republicans sniped that only 106 of the votes were on bills ultimately signed into law, and that 45 of those bestowed names on post offices or other property.
Congressmen are also expressing disgust at the possibility that they may only get two and a half weeks off for Thanksgiving and three and a half weeks for Christmas.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Revision was the watchword in the September jobs report. For August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a statistically insignificant decline of 4,000 in non-farm payrolls, prompting the New York Times to run the headline, "Unexpected Loss of Jobs Raises Risk of Recession." Not for the first time, and probably not for the last, the loss of 4,000 has now been revised to a gain of 89,000. Imagine the corrected headline: "Unexpected Upward Revision in Jobs Raises Risk of No Recession."Read the rest here.
Last month, the issue's visibility increased after a Colorado man, who ate two or more bags a day of microwave popcorn, was diagnosed with popcorn lung disease.He ate two or more bags of popcorn a day and that's the only thing that's wrong with him?
Meanwhile, the federal government continues to operate on a continuing resolution after Congress failed to pass any of the basic appropriations bills for the fiscal year which began October 1st.
Friday, October 05, 2007
From the AP:
When Beverly and Ernie Fischer gathered up their cattle this fall in Morton County, they rounded up a little more than they expected.
"We were moving some cattle, and we got a moose," Ernie Fischer said. "He thinks he is a cow," said his wife.
Ernie Fischer said it was difficult to get the young bull moose away from the cattle, and workers put it in a separate corral until it could be released. The moose also broke fences on the ranch 20 miles south of Mandan.
It's not the only such incident in south central North Dakota this year. Emmons County rancher Sam Gross recently reported a lone bull moose in his cattle herd, and a moose also was spotted in a cattle herd in McIntosh County.
There's no reason to pay off debt if someone else will do it for you.
Public service employees -- federal workers, soldiers, nurses, firefighters and others -- will have an opportunity to qualify for student loan forgiveness under a law signed by President Bush yesterday.
The law forgives outstanding education debt for public service employees who have made 10 years of monthly payments on their loans while serving full-time in government, public education or other positions related to public service.
The loan-forgiveness provision of the law [took] effect Monday, which will start the clock ticking on when the government will take responsibility for paying outstanding debt...
I would have misprounounced both Kyrgyzstan and Mauritania (and probably still will). Neither one comes up in conversation much, after all.
Bit of a slip-up at the United Nations... Someone posted a [draft] of President Bush's... address on the U.N. Web site... complete with helpful phonetic pronunciations for various countries and people.
"The United States, salutes the nations that have recently taken strides toward liberty," the draft said, "including Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan [KEYR-geez-stan], Mauritania [moor-EH-tain-ee-a], Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Morocco."
"In Zimbabwe," the draft said, "the behavior of the Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee] regime is an assault on its people," and the U.N. "must insist on change in Harare [hah-RAR-ray]."
Monday, September 24, 2007
This is odd since the decision was made by the Democrats' own national committee. The state party had a choice and chose an early primary that would elect zero delegates. If anyone should be sued under this ridiculous premise, it should be the Florida Democrat Party (which should adopt the name "Florida Trial Lawyer Party"). These guys make the DNC look good.
Florida Democrats might sue own party over seating of delegates
Florida Democratic party leaders on Sunday dared their national party to disenfranchise millions of voters next summer when their delegates meet in Denver to nominate their candidate for president.
Their dare, they added, might be bolstered by a lawsuit contending that "four rogue states" are conspiring to violate the civil rights of minorities in Florida by getting the Democratic National Committee to ignore the results of Florida's Jan. 29 party primary.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
...out of 45 million uninsured Americans, 9 million aren't American, 9 million are insured, 18 million are young and healthy. And the rest of these poor helpless waifs trapped in Uninsured Hell waiting for Hillary to rescue them are, in fact, wealthier than the general population.Read it all here.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
As many as half a million Hispanics served in World War II and earned at least 13 Medals of Honor.Missing context always bothers me, so I looked it up:
And here's part of the official description of the series:
464 Medals of Honor were awarded in World War II.
13 is roughly 2.8% of 464.
Over 16 million Americans served in World War II.
Based on Alvear's statistics, about 3% of those were Hispanics.
THE WAR, a seven-part series directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, tells the story of the Second World War through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four quintessentially American towns.Why should we expect a handful of men and women from only four towns to represent every possible 3% subdivision of America?
So we should expect a handful of men and women from only four towns to represent every possible 3% subdivision of America because it's Ken Burns. With this kind of fanatical obsession, I half-expect Alvear to cry herself to sleep every night because Private Ryan and Oskar Schindler were too white.
Burns said at the screening I attended that some Latinos were reacting as if "The War" would be the definitive account of World War II. Others could produce documentaries on this subject, he noted. I doubt, however, that PBS or any commercial network would be willing to spend millions of dollars on another World War II project anytime soon. And no other filmmaker would receive the attention or editorial freedom Burns gets.
In discussing the criticism, Burns told the Los Angeles Times this month that he noticed that Hispanic groups hadn't pressured Latino filmmakers to tell the stories he omitted. "No, no, no -- it has to be Ken Burns," he said. "In a way all of this was an extraordinary compliment." Yes, it was. Latinos recognize that Burns is the country's preeminent documentary filmmaker. We want him to recognize us and our contributions to America.
Four of those five states are routinely described in the media as irreversibly Democrat, and the fifth as having recently seen the light -- yet they will all be the focus of 2008's batch of union thugs.
The AFL-CIO and its member unions said yesterday they will spend an estimated $200 million on the 2008 elections, including $53 million devoted to grass-roots mobilization.
In addition, the nation's largest labor federation said it would deploy more than 200,000 volunteers leading up to the election, focusing on battleground states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Contingent upon Board approval, we hope to run every other Blue Line train from Franconia-Springfield to Greenbelt via the Yellow Line bridge across the Potomac. This pattern will provide direct service from southern Fairfax County to the eastern portion of downtown.All that does it slash service to the western and southeastern portions of downtown and cater to people who are too lazy to get their fat asses up and transfer to the yellow line at any one of the six shared stations between King Street and the Pentagon.
The Blue Line is already operating over-capacity trains that, according to this statement, will be reduced in number by 50%. Unless they are going to run every other Yellow train on the Blue line to make up for running every other Blue train on the Yellow line, this proposal is beyond stupid.
The closer Congressional approval ratings get to zero, the more important those margins of error are going to be.
...the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday...
A paltry 11 percent rated Congress positively, beating the previous low of 14 percent in July.
The national telephone survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
"We kept fixing stuff, but the problems kept coming right back, because of the weight of the tree and the roots," said Michelle Cook-Walker-Fancher. "Sweet gum roots are very aggressive. They look like baseball bats, like those things that the cavemen in those Geico ads carry."Cook-Walker-Fancher? Really? Keep this up and her grandchildren will each have twelve last names.
Monday, September 17, 2007
It is ridiculous to equate wasting two years in community college with no sign of a graduation requirement to actually serving in the military.
Hundreds of thousands of [illegal]-immigrant youths could become eligible to join the military to offset shortages of qualified recruits under a bill pending in Congress.
The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act would allow [illegal immigrant] high-school graduates to gain citizenship if they either attend college for two years or serve two years in the military.
...supporters of the DREAM Act are playing up the bill's military provisions over its educational benefits. Unlike legal immigrants with permanent residency green cards, [illegal] immigrants are barred from enlisting in the military.The military provisions merit consideration, but the unbalanced, undemanding "education" route is merely amnesty and should be debated as such.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We do not believe that the nation's Founders, fresh from fighting a war for representation, would have denied representation to the residents of the new capital they established.Unfortunately, the actual Constitution (written by those pesky Founders) disagrees with them. Which is more credible?
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
The four car trains, which are normally filled well beyond capacity leaving passengers on the platform unable to board, were officially scheduled to be upgraded to six cars by December 2006.
Metro plans to run longer trains on the Blue Line by the end of the month to ease crowding on platforms and in cars on one of the least reliable routes in the system, officials said yesterday.
Because Metro deploys its trains based on ridership, the Blue Line... has been operating with some four-car trains during rush hour while higher-ridership lines run six- and eight-car trains. The Yellow Line has one four-car train during rush hour.
By the end of the month, all four-car trains will have six cars during peak periods as the transit agency adds 18 rail cars to its rush-hour service, bringing its total to 800 cars during the peak period. Metro is able to add cars because 106 of its new rail cars are now in service.
Perhaps Blue Line riders will soon have a bit more space around them when their trains are stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Last fiscal year, Blue Line riders experienced a 37 percent increase in delays from the previous year, the second-biggest jump of any of the five lines, according to Metro statistics.
The 225 delays on the Blue Line were caused by a host of problems, including malfunctioning train doors and track and mechanical problems. There were 164 such delays the previous year, according to Metro figures. Not included in those numbers were recent fire and smoke incidents, caused in part by a power outage near the station for Reagan National Airport on the Blue Line, that hobbled most of the system for two days late last month.
House leaders are beginning an investigation this week of the prosecution of Don Siegelman, the former Democratic governor of Alabama who was imprisoned in June on federal corruption charges. The case could become the centerpiece of a Democratic effort to show that the Justice Department engaged in political prosecutions.Note that the Democrats are disputing Siegelman's prosecution, not his guilt.
Recalling the comments of Alabama's Democrat party chair, "if it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody," I want my $500,000.
The case is considered unusual by many legal experts because actions like those Mr. Siegelman was accused of — exchanging a seat on the state hospital licensing board for a contribution to an education lottery campaign he was pushing — are hardly uncommon in state capitals around the country.
"It's unusual to see a bribery prosecution where the payment wasn't to the defendant," said David A. Sklansky, a former federal prosecutor who teaches at the law school at the University of California, Berkeley. "It seems to me the conduct in this case was similar to a lot of what we take as normal for politics."
"My sense is, there is a great unease with what has gone on here," said Jack Miller, former chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. "It's kind of, if it could happen to him, it could happen to anybody."
"My sole motivation for pushing the prosecution was a firmly held belief, supported by overwhelming evidence and the law, that former Governor Siegelman had broken the law and traded his public office for personal and political favors," Louis V. Franklin Sr., the acting United States attorney in Montgomery, said in one statement.
In June 2006 Mr. Siegelman was convicted by a federal jury in Montgomery of accepting $500,000 from Richard M. Scrushy, then the chief executive of the HealthSouth Corporation, in return for an appointment to the state hospital licensing board.
Bush once promised to be a "compassionate conservative" who would work with the Democrats in Washington the way he had worked with the Democrats in Texas. He would be "a uniter, not a divider." He worked with Teddy Kennedy to create the No Child Left Behind Act, publicly praised the White House service of Bill and Hillary Clinton, squelched investigations of the Clinton pardons and the Sandy "Burglar" Berger case, and he and his father rehabilitated the reputation of former President Clinton by putting him at the forefront of international relief efforts. For all Bush's efforts to build goodwill, what did he get? He became the most vilified president since Richard Nixon.
The time to change course is now, or never. If the president picks a fight over this nomination by appointing a qualified conservative, the GOP base will stand with him. If he tries conciliation again, expecting a different result, he will become the lamest of lame ducks.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
And thanks to... Michael Vick, at least three new bills to strengthen federal laws against... a felony in 48 states... have been introduced in the Senate and the House...
Friday, September 07, 2007
That's because they are chumps. They spent $600 on a PHONE.
If I were an iPhone owner, I'd be hopping mad. I'd be iRate.
Just 10 weeks ago, otherwise sane individuals were camping overnight in long lines for the privilege of paying $599 for a mobile phone. These people were fully aware that most wireless companies will give you a basic phone for free, but the object of their ardor was anything but basic. It was a lifestyle choice. It was an advertisement for oneself. It was a shiny little slice of the future, a thin slab of cool. So what if it cost, gulp, 600 bucks? How could anyone get hung up over anything so prosaic as the price?
But when chief executive Steve Jobs announced Wednesday that Apple was slashing the iPhone's price by a third -- meaning that owning a slice of the future now sets you back only $399 -- the iPhone Internet forums lit up with buyers who felt they'd been taken for chumps.
Jobs didn't go out of his way to make them feel any better. "That's technology," he told USA Today. "If they bought it this morning, they should go back to where they bought it and talk to them. If they bought it a month ago, well, that's what happens in technology." Stung by the reaction, he did offer Thursday to give early buyers a $100 store credit -- but no cash refund.Next up on the chump list: people who will pay $400 for a PHONE.
During a clash that drew a crowd during lunchtime, two demonstrators, including an Iraq war veteran and the mother of another veteran, were arrested on charges of defacing public property. Police charged a third protester with impeding an officer.
The demonstrators, members of the antiwar Answer Coalition, have been in an ongoing dispute with the District and Park Service over their right to post signs in public places.
The D.C. government has fined the coalition about $20,000 for posting signs, and the Park Service has asked the group to remove them.
After the officers took the protesters away, the crowd dispersed. The officers eventually left, but not before taking care of one last piece of business: removing the two signs.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Sunday, September 02, 2007
AAA Mid-Atlantic has clarified its position on Virginia's controversial bad-driver fees, saying it supports them and does not believe a special session is needed to consider changes.
"As all parties involved have acknowledged, changes need to be made in order to improve the abusive driver fee legislation," the automobile, travel and financial organization said in a statement. "However, AAA believes the fees themselves, when properly and fairly applied, provide Virginia the opportunity to improve the safety of its roads while generating needed transportation funding."
In perhaps the most thorough and earnest letter ever written on the subject of a member of Congress's portrait, [Democrat Rep. Charles] Rangel's campaign attorney sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission asking permission to use either campaign or leadership political action committee money to pay for the chairman's grand portrait.
The lawyer, Phu Huynh, wrote, "The cost of commissioning the portrait of Representative Rangel is estimated by the artist to be $64,500, including the cost of a custom frame. . . . Portrait artists determine fees based largely upon reputation, but the size of the subject and detail required also factor heavily in the pricing."
In other news, Rep. Scott Garrett explains why dog fighting shouldn't be federalized:
"Michael Vick has committed egregious acts towards animals and should get punished for his crimes," Garrett told us in an e-mail through his spokeswoman, adding: "My previous vote in regards to animal fighting was to keep federal law enforcement from taking over state crimes. Prosecutors and officers are already stretched thin. For instance, over the last 10 years, federal courts have dealt with a 172% increase in sexual offence cases, largely due to increases in prosecutions for sexually explicit materials such as child pornography. With almost 70,000 victims and families waiting for justice across the country (over 1,000 in New Jersey alone), it doesn't seem reasonable to prolong their suffering by creating a law that would make actions that are already illegal and prosecutable under state laws, a federal offense."
What might happen on Sept. 11 a hundred years from now? "It's conceivable that it could be virtually forgotten," said [Dr. John Bodnar, a professor of history at Indiana University]. "Does anyone go out on the streets of New York and commemorate the firing on Fort Sumter?"No, they go to Fort Sumter.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Only Ralph Nader could be envious.
A new Gallup Poll finds Congress' approval rating the lowest it has been since Gallup first tracked public opinion of Congress with this measure in 1974. Just 18% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, while 76% disapprove, according to the August 13-16, 2007, Gallup Poll.
That 18% job approval rating matches the low recorded in March 1992, when a check-bouncing scandal was one of several scandals besetting Congress, leading many states to pass term limits measures for U.S. representatives (which the Supreme Court later declared unconstitutional). Congress had a similarly low 19% approval rating during the energy crisis in the summer of 1979.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A surprising 94 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with their lives...Leading Democrats are expected to blame the President for the number being less than 100% and call for a massive federal entitlement program: Your Neighbors' Money Will Buy You Happiness.
Monday, August 13, 2007
"Karl Rove was an architect of a political strategy that has left the country more divided, the special interests more powerful, and the American people more shut out from their government than any time in memory," Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama said.Obama likely believes, but forgot to say, "My only wish is that he had worked for me."
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
According to recently unsealed documents in U.S. District Court in Washington, FBI agents who raided [Democrat Rep. William] Jefferson's Capitol Hill home in August of 2005 found $20,000 in cash inside a Boca Burger box in the freezer.
Previous court documents stated only that $90,000 in hard cold cash was found in foil and frozen food containers. But a newly unsealed itemized inventory by FBI agents shows $20,000 of the total was tucked inside a Boca Burger box, $30,000 in a "Yes! Organic Market" bag and $20,000 in a not-so-organic Pillsbury pie crust box. (The other $20,000 - found in two stacks of $10,000, bound by rubber bands - was just wrapped in foil, you know, the normal way to keep cash in one's freezer.)
Friday, August 03, 2007
Survey shows just 3% of Americans approve of how Congress is handling the war in Iraq...
The online survey was conducted July 13–16, 2007, and included 7,590 respondents. It carries a margin of error of +/– 1.1 percentage points.
And yet they expect the rest of America to vote without real time election results. How can we ever make up our minds?
A busted computer system hamstrung the House... for at least 45 minutes Friday on one of the tensest legislative days of the year.
The House electronic voting system malfunctioned at approximately 2 p.m.... Projectors that usually display how each member voted and show a tally of votes were not working, although votes were still being recorded on computers at various locations in the House chamber.
The mishap came during the final two days of legislative activity before a month-long recess, a time when tensions run high as lawmakers grind out last-minute agreements on a bevy of bills. Many lawmakers were already agitated from a rancorous episode last night when Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-N.Y.) gaveled closed a vote before the tally was clear. McNulty apologized to his colleagues this morning.
The broken computers prompted protracted squabbles among lawmakers Friday afternoon. Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) questioned how they could vote if they were unable to see the usual tally. Lawmakers are accustomed to seeing how their colleagues are voting while they mull their own decision.
Friday, July 27, 2007
The Clintons are Democratic Party nobility, associated with the economic boom of the 1990s and the most successful Democratic presidency in more than 20 years.To be honest, "most successful" should be replaced with "only".
Thursday, July 19, 2007
In the wee hours, John McCain (R-Ariz.) walked alone toward the Senate chamber. "I'm going to speak all night," he vowed with determination.
"I'm going to bed," a reporter told the senator.
"You won't miss a thing," McCain assured.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Anyone who wonders why Congress has a job approval rating of 23 percent, seven points lower than even Bush’s, need only look at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) failure to change the ethics of the Congress. Having pledged to make Congress full-time and put the lackadaisical members to work, she then announced a schedule for 2007 in which House members will have 20 weeks off (and when they work, it’s Tuesday to Thursday most of the time).
Now Pelosi has come up with her own version of the No Child Left Behind program by asking the Defense Department to allow adult children of members of Congress to accompany them on their taxpayer-funded travel abroad if their spouses can’t make it. Such heartfelt concern for the lonely congressman on a publicly paid junket may be her version of family values, but it is a waste of tax money.
A little past 6 p.m. on the evening of June 19, Michael Bloomberg’s press office sent out the following statement:
"I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party."
When the billionaire and life-long Democrat ran as a Republican for mayor of New York City in 2001, his conversion had nothing to do with epiphany and everything to do with expediency (as the GOP candidate, he’d face an easier primary field and could spare himself the labyrinthine nominating process he'd face on the Democratic side)... Term-limited in New York... Today's news that Bloomberg was changing his party status from "Republican" to "unaffiliated" is hardly Earth-shattering.Since he doesn't need the affiliation to get on the ballot anymore, it's hardly even news.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Amid political gridlock on domestic issues and inconclusive debates over Iraq, the approval rating for Congress stands [much] lower than [President] Bush's, at 23%. Just 41% of Americans say their representative in Congress deserves re-election, comparable to levels before Democrats swept Republicans out of power in November.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Monday, June 04, 2007
Commencement addresses at the nation's top colleges and universities this year mostly were given by [leftist] speakers with few conservatives snagging the honor, according to a report... by the Young America's Foundation.
The conservative group conducts the review each year using the U.S. News & World Report ranking of top schools. This year, it found left-leaning speakers outnumbered conservatives by a ratio of 8-to-1.
"It's not that there's a few cases here and there. It's that there's a consistent pattern where conservatives are shunned," said Jason Mattera, spokesman for YAF. "For 14 years, we've shown that college administrators are using commencement ceremonies to send their students off with one more predictable leftist lecture."
...With some schools yet to announce their speakers at the time of the review and some schools' speakers listed as neutral, YAF found 42 "blue" speakers and eight "red" speakers.
Among the eight speakers listed on the conservative side of the political spectrum were Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the College of William & Mary, first lady Laura Bush at Pepperdine University and conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks at Wake Forest University.
While many Americans had last Monday off for Memorial Day, the Senate spent the entire week on vacation.
Former Rep. Henry Bonilla, a Texas Republican defeated for re-election last year, remains unconfirmed by the Democratic-controlled Senate two and one-half months after President Bush nominated him as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. He is one of 85 Bush nominees for substantive government positions who are stuck in the Senate.
They include presidential appointees for deputy secretary of the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department, under secretary of energy for nuclear development, assistant secretary of agriculture, assistant secretary of commerce, deputy Social Security administrator and HHS general counsel.
Also unconfirmed are 24 judicial nominees, seven for appeals courts and 17 for district judgeships. All told, the Senate has not acted on 175 Bush nominations.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I think it's obvious what Ensz should receive every day on her doorstep and every day in the mail.
A former Democratic Party activist who left dog feces on the doorstep of U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave's Greeley office during last year's 4th Congressional District campaign was found not guilty Wednesday of criminal use of a noxious substance.
A Weld County jury deliberated about two hours before acquitting Kathleen Ensz of the misdemeanor count. Her trial began Tuesday.
Ensz's lawyers never denied that their client left a Musgrave campaign brochure full of feces at the front door of the congresswoman's office. But they argued that Ensz was making a statement protected by free speech...
Ensz had served as vice chairwoman of her party's state Senate District 13. Don Hoff, district chairman, said Ensz resigned from the post last fall.
Hoff defended Ensz's actions as protected free speech...
Read it all here.
After 140 days, however, congressional Democrats left town with no significant accomplishments, one long-delayed bill finally enacted into law, and lots to make fun of. There was no increase in morality, no magically bipartisan era, no sweeping enactment of a coherent agenda for change, akin to what Republicans promised in their Contract With America in 1994. Instead, the 110th Congress has been a combination of "now I'll get mine" and "now you'll get yours!"
It hasn't been pretty. And it isn't likely to get better. Only those who were paying very careful attention last fall saw this coming.
In place of legislation, we've had investigations. Lots of them. Into everything the Administration is doing - not so Congress can do something about it, but to make the point that Republicans are doing it wrong.
Just after the elections last fall, Senator Schumer warned that the Democrats' victory was less a mandate than a protest. He cautioned that if Democrats were merely obstructionist, opposing the President without actually trying to enact a positive legislative agenda, they would lose power quickly - and deservedly so.
The Democrats' leadership should have listened. President Bush, suffering abysmal poll numbers after six years in office, now has company - a Democratic Congress that in less than six months earned even lower poll numbers by showing more interest in posturing, payback, and pork than in coming to grips with real problems.
If Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Reid, and their colleagues decide to stay on the sidelines, second-guessing, shouting directions, and calling players over for a dressing down, they may well find themselves out of a job. After all, even Monday morning quarterbacks can be replaced.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Not only is this a great demonstration of Edwards' well-known hypocrisy, it also is a reminder of the waste that drives up college costs. UC Davis could never have raised the $55,000 by asking for donations from attendees, so they taxed the rest of the student body to pay for it.
Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, who as a Democratic presidential candidate recently proposed an educational policy that urged "every financial barrier" be removed for American kids who want to go to college, has been going to college himself -- as a high paid speaker, his financial records show.
The candidate charged a whopping $55,000 to speak at to a crowd of 1,787 the taxpayer-funded University of California at Davis on Jan. 9, 2006 last year, Joe Martin, the public relations officer for the campus' Mondavi Center confirmed Monday.
That amount -- which comes to about $31 a person in the audience -- included Edwards' travel and airfare, and was the highest speaking fee in the nine appearances he made before colleges and universities last year, according to his financial records.
The earnings -- though made before Edwards was a declared Democratic presidential candidate -- could hand ammunition to his competition for the Democratic presidential nomination. The candidate -- who was then the head of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina -- chose to speak on "Poverty, the great moral issue facing America," as his $55,000 topic at UC Davis.
That could cause both parents and students to note some irony here: UC Davis -- like the rest of the public University of California system -- will get hit this year by a 7 percent tuition increase that likely hits many of the kids his speeches are aimed at helping.
In 2006, records show Edwards made more than $285,000 speaking to nine colleges and universities, charging between $16,000 and Davis' $55,000 for his talks...
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
A new Gallup Poll finds continued low levels of public support for both Congress and President George W. Bush. Twenty-nine percent of Americans approve of Congress, down [four points] from last month's reading... while Bush's approval rating is holding steady at 33%.Yet the "news" media won't be obsessively reminding us of the massive and increasing disapproval of the do-nothing Democrat Congress. It doesn't fit the agenda.
Monday, May 14, 2007
The unpopularity of Congress isn't new news, but it certainly is underreported.
People think the Democratic-led Congress is doing just as dreary a job as President Bush, following four months of bitter political standoffs that have seen little progress on [anything of substance].
The survey found only 35 percent approve of how Congress is handling its job, down 5 percentage points in a month.
Congress' reduced appeal was evident in several categories of people. Only 48 percent of Democrats said they approved of Congress, down from 55 percent last month. That included a 12 percentage point drop among Democratic women, though support from Democratic men remained steady.
Approval by minorities also fell a dozen points to 39 percent, with a similar reduction among people whose family incomes exceed $75,000.
By region, the steepest drop was in the Midwest, where approval fell by 10 percentage points to 28 percent. Congress' highest approval was in the Northeast, where four in ten gave it a positive rating.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
"The rest of the world" imposes price controls that the Senators are too cowardly to directly consider.
Ignoring a White House veto threat, [Senate] lawmakers voted 63 to 28 to move to a final vote on adding the drug importation provision to a larger bill on the operations of the Food and Drug Administration.
"There is a pricing problem with prescription drugs," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), who co-sponsored the amendment with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). "The identical drug, FDA-approved, the same pill, put in the same bottle, made by the same company, is set virtually every other place in the world at a lower price. And the American consumer is told, 'You know what, we have a special deal for you: You get to pay the highest price in the world.'"
For related background on how Congress and the Democrats want to mismanage American health care, check out Democrats Want Old People to Die.
Earlier this week, the White House issued a statement saying that Bush's advisers would recommend that he veto any importation provision that did not address safety concerns around imported drugs that were identified by a Department of Health and Human Services task force in 2004.
"The administration believes that allowing the importation of drugs outside the current safety system established by the FDA without addressing these serious safety concerns would threaten public health and result in unsafe, unapproved and counterfeit drugs being imported into the United States," the White House statement said.
Despite support in the House and Senate, the White House for years has blocked legislation opening the borders to the reimportation of U.S.-made pharmaceuticals, arguing that their safety cannot be assured. During the Clinton administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala similarly concluded that she could not guarantee a safe system for drug imports.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
The next census is a mere 3 years away, which will cause any new Utah seat to be moot by 2012 - after a mere two terms. The unconstitutional DC seat, however, would continue to exist.
A prominent Republican senator, Orrin G. Hatch, threw his weight behind the D.C. voting-rights bill yesterday in what supporters called a possible breakthrough in getting the legislation approved by that chamber.
The legislation is a political compromise that would pair a new House seat for the heavily Democratic District with another seat for Republican-leaning Utah. Hatch's state just missed getting a fourth representative after the last census.
Even if the legislation passes the Senate, the White House has threatened a veto.Rightly so.
By the supporters' logic, Congress can unilaterally amend the Constitution in any situation. After all, it is in the District.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated his opposition to the measure, however. Asked whether Hatch's move would change Republican minds, McConnell said: "Well, it doesn't change the Constitution. And the Constitution's really quite clear on it."
Critics of the D.C. vote legislation say it violates the constitutional requirement that House members come from states. The bill's supporters argue that the Constitution gives Congress sweeping powers over the District, which would allow for giving it full representation in the House.
Background: Congressional Research Service: DC Vote Plan Unconstitutional
Jackie Lynn Jeter/Transit Union President: "I would hope even if you see someone doing an unsafe act they would do so as safely as they can."Kind of like how we need "safer guns" and "safer bullets."
Monday, April 30, 2007
Such an assumption makes no sense for one simple reason - if the Justices were secretly basing their decisions on Church teachings they wouldn't have needed anything more than half of Justice Thomas' concurrence (which only Justice Scalia joined):
Is it significant that the five Supreme Court justices who voted to uphold the federal ban on a controversial abortion procedure also happen to be the court's Roman Catholics?
It is to Tony Auth, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He drew Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. wearing bishop's miters, and labeled his cartoon "Church and State."
Rosie O'Donnell and Barbara Walters hashed out the issue on "The View," with O'Donnell noting that a majority of the court is Catholic and wondering about "separation of church and state." Walters counseled that "we cannot assume that they did it because they're Catholic."
I join the Court's opinion because it accurately applies current jurisprudence, including Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992). I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution...Of course, this would still overlap with basing their decisions on the Constitution.
The reality is that the Court's 4 "conservative" justices happen to be Catholic. The occasional pairing with Justice Kennedy makes a 4 or 5 justice voting bloc on some issues where the anti-Catholic bigotry would be useless:
And last week, four of the five Catholics were in the court's minority in voting to uphold death sentences in three cases from Texas...Court observers should be above religious attacks and note two additional facts: (1) the federal ban was written to comply with the earlier decision and (2) Justice O'Connor, the "swing-vote" in that case, was replaced by Justice Alito. With the passing of the O'Connor Court, the law is no longer whatever Justice O'Connor says it is.
If Corzine thinks the speed limit is too slow for him, he should at least have taken a helicopter instead of continuing to endanger his fellow citizens.
[New Jersey] Gov. Jon S. Corzine apologized to New Jersey residents Monday as he left the hospital 18 days after a devastating car crash in which he was not wearing a seat belt and was riding in a car traveling at more than 91 miles an hour on the Garden State Parkway.
"I set a very bad example," said a contrite Mr. Corzine, who broke his left femur and 11 ribs in the accident, speaking from a wheelchair just outside Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J.
His voice breaking with emotion, he added: "I hope the state will forgive me. I will work very hard to set the right kind of example."
Mr. Corzine was injured April 12 when his state vehicle crashed on the Garden State Parkway near Atlantic City. At the time of the accident, he was not wearing a seat belt, as state law requires, and the vehicle was exceeding the posted 65 m.p.h. speed limit by more than 25 miles an hour.
Today, after his brief comments, Mr. Corzine got into a dark GMC Savana van that he purchased in the last few days and had specially modified for his wheelchair. He left the hospital in a six-car caravan that included a black state police Crown Victoria, a Chevrolet Suburban like the one he had been riding in on April 12, a Mercedes station wagon and two other cars.
No one in the motorcade used emergency lights, as his driver had been doing at the time of the accident. They kept to a pace of about 70 miles per hour, even though the posted limit is 55 on the stretch of Interstate 295 that leads to Drumthwacket, the governor's official mansion in Princeton, where Mr. Corzine will spend the next stage of his recovery.
For his shameful behavior and abuse of office, Corzine must resign.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Florida may take an unusual approach to tackling undervotes:
But what will happen if a voter wants to abstain from "I choose not to vote"?
[State Sen. Mike Bennett] persuaded the Senate Ethics and Elections committee to approve a bill, SB-494, on Monday that would require ballots to have the additional option of "I choose not to vote."
That option could not win a race, and the actual candidate with the highest number of votes would win the election.
Bennett, R-Bradenton, said the no-choice option would enable uninformed or disgusted voters to opt out in a way that clearly displays their intention to abstain for elections officials.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The criminals vary in their methods:
It's a perk of federal employment: a free monthly subsidy that pays for commutes on public transportation. But scores of workers have been taking the government for a ride, selling their benefits on the Internet and pocketing millions in cash each year.
The program, which covers 300,000 federal employees nationwide, has been abused by workers across a variety of agencies, the Government Accountability Office will report to Congress today. Workers in the Washington region alone have defrauded the government of at least $17 million a year, with the actual figure probably several million dollars higher, according to the GAO.
Senator Coleman highlights the failure of the bureaucracy to recognize criminal activity:
Workers have been accepting the transit subsidies but driving to work, or claiming a subsidy far greater than their commuting costs and selling the excess, GAO investigators found. For example, one employee at the Department of Transportation claimed the maximum benefit of $105 per month, but his commute cost $54.
A Northern Virginia man who works for the Transportation Department and has been receiving the maximum transit subsidy since 2004, even though he often "slugs" to work -- jumping into the impromptu carpools on I-95/395 lanes -- gets a ride with a neighbor or rides his motorcycle. He sold his unused Metrocheks, worth $1,080, on eBay. He told investigators he did not know it was illegal, despite a warning on the cards.
Both members of a married couple working at the Defense Department received transit subsidies but drove to work together. The husband told investigators he sold 61 lots of Metrocheks, worth $6,000, on eBay. The wife denied selling hers and said she used her subsidy for personal travel -- a violation of the program -- but both spouses' names appeared on the eBay accounts.
A worker at the Commerce Department left her job in 2001 but received benefits until 2006, when she changed addresses and the agency caught the mistake. By that time, she had sold Metrocheks worth $4,000, according to the GAO.
The Coast Guard gave transit subsidies to one man who apparently did not work for the agency; no employment records could be located for him, the GAO found. The Treasury Department gave Metrocheks to 25 people who never worked at that agency, according to the GAO.
Sales have been brisk despite a warning on the back of the Metrocheks that says they are not transferable, and a pledge signed by workers that says they will use the cards only to cover their commuting costs...
With the transit program costing some $250 million annually, identified fraud consumes almost 7% of the budget.
"The internal controls on this particular program are grossly inadequate, and no one agency is responsible for overseeing or managing the program -- that is a recipe for disaster," said Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.), the panel's ranking Republican, who initiated the investigation. "It's not a case of someone being asleep at the switch; it's a case of no one being at the switch at all."
Coleman said the idea behind the program -- to reduce traffic congestion and pollution by getting federal workers to use public transportation -- remains worthwhile.
But he said basic controls should be enacted: Employment should be confirmed before someone is enrolled in the program; workers should not get parking spaces and transit benefits at the same time; agencies should verify employees' commuting expenses; and when an employee leaves an agency, the administrator of transit benefits should be notified.
"Most importantly, there should be greater clarity on precisely which agency or agencies are responsible for running this operation," Coleman said. And, he said, workers caught selling their Metrocheks should be punished.
Senator Coleman is right, these workers should be punished. They should be fired from their jobs, barred from future employment, and prosecuted to the full extent possible.
Monday, April 23, 2007
That should be most helpful outside of rush hour so passengers don't spend as much time stuck on the platforms, but it will probably also encourage people to run through the entire station to catch trains.
Metrorail customers will now be able to get train arrival information at the mezzanine level and elevator outage information at the platform level of rail stations. Beginning Monday, April 23, the information will be displayed on the electronic signs or Passenger Information Displays (PIDs).
"Now, our customers will be able to make decisions about their trips before the enter they stations and get to know about train arrival and delay information," [Metro General Manager John Catoe] said.
It will also be interesting to see how accurate this information is. This morning, Blue and Yellow trains were being displayed with the wrong line color and the wrong number of cars. In the evening, the information displayed outside had no resemblance to the trains actually arriving.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Among the reactions:
The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure today...
The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 [is constitutional]...
The administration had defended the law as drawing a bright line between abortion and infanticide.
Reacting to the ruling, [President] Bush said that it affirms the progress his administration has made to uphold the "sanctity of life."
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has upheld a law that prohibits the abhorrent procedure of partial birth abortion," he said. "Today's decision affirms that the Constitution does not stand in the way of the people's representatives enacting laws reflecting the compassion and humanity of America."
The "chorus" included both Romney and McCain, and will surely grow.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R)... Wednesday joined in the chorus of Republican presidential candidates hailing the Supreme Court decision upholding the ban of the procedure.
"The Supreme Court reached the correct conclusion in upholding the congressional ban on partial birth abortion," Giuliani said in a statement on the 5–4 decision. "I agree with it."
On the other side, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all attacked the ruling, opposing the law that was passed in 2003 with the support of over one third of Senate Democrats.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Actors Kelsey Grammer, Adam Sandler and John O’Hurley (J. Peterman on “Seinfeld”) cut checks for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).
Monday, April 16, 2007
Slightly over half of all Americans – 52.6 percent – now receive significant income from government programs, according to an analysis by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That's up from 49.4 percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950. If the trend continues, the percentage could rise within ten years to pass 55 percent, where it stood in 1980 on the eve of President's Reagan's move to scale back the size of government.With the "boomers" seeking to bankrupt their children through increasing entitlements and Democrats throwing money at anything they can see, this number will only grow.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
If Senate Democrats are unwilling to consider their consitutional duty of advice and consent, there's no reason to submit yet another appointment for them to ignore.
A half-dozen sitting U.S. attorneys also serve as aides to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales or are assigned other Washington postings, performing tasks that take them away from regular duties in their districts for months or even years at a time, according to officials and department records.
Acting Associate Attorney General William W. Mercer, for example, has been effectively absent from his job as U.S. attorney in Montana for nearly two years -- prompting the chief federal judge in Billings to demand his removal and call Mercer's office "a mess."
At the moment, at least six sitting U.S. attorneys, including Mercer..., also hold senior spots at Justice. Each prosecutor continues to draw a regular U.S. attorney's salary and is not paid extra for the executive position...
Mercer currently wears two hats as the U.S. attorney in Montana and as third-in-command at Justice, behind Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty. Mercer has been pulling double duty since June 2005, when he was first appointed to a different executive position at Justice headquarters.
His regular absence from the U.S. attorney's office in Billings has caused severe friction between Mercer and U.S. District Chief Judge Donald W. Molloy, a Clinton appointee. Molloy wrote a letter to Gonzales in October 2005 demanding that Mercer be replaced.
[Department of Justice spokesman Brian] Roehrkasse said Mercer has "effectively served" in his simultaneous postings but that "Congress should move forward quickly to confirm his nomination, which has been pending for eight months." Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have indicated they will not proceed on the appointment until after the panel's probe of the U.S. attorney firings is completed.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
The Democrat Senate shows disrespect for the advise-and-consent responsibilities of the U.S. Senate and for the American people by failing to follow through with those responsibilities and give nominees an up or down vote. Refusing to hold hearings and refusing to vote is shameful and childish behavior.
In a flurry of nominations and appointments, [President] Bush also named a researcher at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, as deputy director of the Social Security Administration. Andrew G. Biggs has been an outspoken proponent of converting Social Security benefits into self-directed retirement accounts, which Bush favors but Democrats have stopped cold. Bush nominated Biggs to that post in November, but the process stalled in February when the Senate Finance Committee refused to hold confirmation hearings because of his views on privatization.
[Susan Dudley's] nomination [as director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at OMB] stalled because the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which held the hearing, didn't vote on it.
Dudley was unavailable for comment Wednesday, as were leading senators on the committee. But Leslie Phillips, the committee's communications director, criticized Bush for making an end run.
The recess appointment, she said, "shows disrespect for the advise-and-consent responsibilities of the U.S. Senate and for the American people, on whose behalf the president acts. The power to recess appoint should not be used to avoid any scrutiny of presidential nominees."
No wonder Congress has the lowest approval rating of any branch of government.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
ABC News adds:
A gallon of gas costs an average of $2.68 nationally and is rising -- about the same price as last spring when Democrats on the campaign trail vowed to swiftly ease the pain at the pump if elected.
...analysts predict gas prices could hit $3 per gallon by summer.
That's a good question since few, if any, of the 5,604 copies of the Congressional Record are probably ever read.
One of the unintended consequences of the new five-day workweek under the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill is a whopping bill from the Government Printing Office. A longer workweek means more paper.
The Congressional Record, for instance, is printed daily and captures every debate, vote, parliamentary maneuver, tribute to a fife-and-drum corps, post office naming, and utterance by members on the floor of the House and the Senate. It averages 250 pages.
That's two additional days of the Congressional Record, 500 more pages and an additional $3 million annually in printing costs, according to Robert C. Tapella, chief of staff for the printing office, which is responsible for publishing all government documents. The current press run for the Congressional Record is 5,604 copies, a figure set by Congress.
The agency is producing 3 million or 4 million pages a week for Congress from its 1.5 million-square-foot North Capitol Street headquarters, the largest information-processing, printing and distribution facility in the world. Tapella could not say how that compares with the workload under the last Congress.
All the talk of paper led some members of the panel to question why the printing office, which was created in 1813 when printing was a central tool in communication, hasn't gone all-electronic.
Who reads the Congressional Record with their morning coffee? If any do, it should come out of their office budgets.
The printing office is in the middle of a $29 million technological shift that will allow it to store and maintain all federal documents electronically, Tapella said. About 92 percent of everything it publishes now is available in an electronic format, said Michael L. Wash, the agency's chief technical officer. The agency produced its first online edition of the Congressional Record two weeks ago.
But [William H. Turri, the acting public printer,] said the printing office will stick with paper until Congress directs it to do otherwise.
"It's kind of like the newspaper business," said Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn). "They know things are going electronic, but they know people are going to want to read their newspaper with their coffee."
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Don't get excited. They said we'd be rid of those four-car trains by last December.
Metrorail Adding 24 Rail Cars
To accommodate higher ridership during Cherry Blossom activities, Metro is adding 24 rail cars to its weekday morning and afternoon peak service starting Monday, April 2. These 24 rail cars will allow Metro to initiate eight-car trains on the Red and Green lines and to expand eight-car train service on the Orange Line during the afternoon peak period. Metro will convert one four-car train to a six-car train on the Yellow Line, and convert two four-car Blue Line trains to six-car trains. These added cars will remain in service after the festival.
There is, however, one important and fundamental piece of advice for anyone visiting the DC area:
Visitors should avoid traveling during the peak commuter periods from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m., and are strongly encouraged to avoid traveling Metrorail between 4 and 6 p.m. at the height of the afternoon peak period.Metrorail doesn't have the capacity to handle commuters on a normal day, there certainly isn't room for tourists.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Democratic attempt to attack Bush for exercising his presidential power to dismiss employees who serve at his pleasure smacks of nothing so much as the trumped-up grounds for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868. Back then, radical Republicans tried to oust him for failing to obey the Tenure of Office Act, which they passed, barring him from firing members of his Cabinet (in this case, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton) without Senate approval. Soon after Johnson’s acquittal, the Supreme Court invalidated the Tenure of Office Act, in effect affirming Johnson’s position.Pesky history.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Only about one-third of the 22 presidential candidates have prior military experience... Furthermore, the chances of winning the nomination are bleak for most of these eight veterans - only Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) are currently top- and second-tier candidates, respectively.The second tier must go pretty low.
Of the current Democrat candidates:
1. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)- No prior military experience
2. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL)- No prior military experience
3. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC)- No prior military experience
4. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D)- No prior military experience
5. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)- Served in the Army
6. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)- No prior military experience
7. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)- No prior military experience
8. Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK)- Served in the Army
For some history, read the rest here.
George W. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales are taking a lot of heat from Democrats lately for allegedly discharging some U.S. attorneys for political reasons.
Of course, the president has every right to fire any political appointee in his administration for any reason, political or otherwise. In hindsight, it would have been far better if the administration had just said so from the beginning instead of wrongly implying that the attorneys were fired for cause.
Nevertheless, Democrats will continue to milk the issue for all it is worth in an effort to create a scandal and embarrass Bush by possibly forcing him to fire his close personal friend Gonzales. It may not be fair to Gonzales, but that's the way the political game is played in Washington. As they say, if you want a real friend here, get a dog.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
In 1995, when juvenile murder was at this "peak" the overreaching DC gun ban was almost two decades old. The law, in fact, predated the juveniles themselves.
Give Us Back Our Gun Law
By Cathy Lanier and Vincent Schiraldi
...Back in 1995, the number of juveniles arrested for homicides in the District peaked at an alarming 14...
In 1995 the District already had one of the nation's toughest gun control laws, forbidding handgun possession in the home. This is the provision the appeals court recently overturned...
[Since then,] bans on multiple gun sales in neighboring states choked off black-market sales, while the D.C. ban on guns in the home reduced the ability of youths to borrow guns from family and friends. The result? The number of juveniles charged with homicide in the District fell 86 percent from 1995 to 2006. In 1995, 14 of the 227 people charged with a homicide in the District, or 6 percent, were juveniles. Last year, only two out of 106 people (fewer than 2 percent) charged with homicides in the District were juveniles. Because easy access to cheap handguns disproportionately jeopardizes D.C. youths, laws that restrict such access disproportionately benefit youths.
By ignoring this fact and focusing on only the most recent years, Lanier and Schiraldi have stumbled into making an argument for relatively minor restrictions on gun sales. Maryland and Virginia, without enacting extremist gun bans, have helped save the District from itself.
In calling for the repeal of DC's gun ban, the Washington Times recently brought up a much more relevant statistic:
Since 1976, the city's murder rate is up 32 percent. The country's is down 36 percent. Let's see whether letting law-abiding citizens get more guns means less crime.A 1976 law must be judged by statistics since 1976, not 1995. Now we know why those were left out.