Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spanish Grandstanding


Apparently Spain is "considering an investigation into six former Bush administration officials regarding alleged torture of inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp." Nevertheless, it seems all this will do is force Deadeye Dick, et al, to cross the Iberian country off their vacation possibility list. (It's certainly not unprecedented.)

While Spain certainly has every reason to want to go after terrorists, it seems to draw the line at torturing those who might have been involved in such activities. How diplomatic of the country's leaders.

One amusing side note to the story is that former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Doug Feith really has no idea why he's being included in Spain's accusation.
[Feith] said he did not make the decision on interrogation methods and was baffled by the allegations. "I didn’t even argue for the thing I understand they’re objecting to," he said.
Of course, Mr. Feith is the Bushie who was identified by no less than former Commander of the United States Central Command, General Tommy Franks, as "the f**king stupidest guy on the face of the earth," so his assertions may be open to question.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Newest Huskies


And the rich get richer.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paul Who?


Eric Boehlert discusses Newsweek's latest cover story.

That sound you heard


... was the countless UConn fans exhaling around 9:30 last night.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

NCAA musings


This comment made me think of perhaps the only game I still rue not having found a bookie for: the first round game of twenty years ago between the Alonzo Mourning-led Georgetown Hoyas and the Pete Carrill-led Princeton Tigers.

The line was outrageous. Was it thirty? It didn't matter, but those who knew Ivy League basketball knew better. There was absolutely no way the Hoyas could win in a rout, because Princeton would never allow them that many shots. Final score: G'town 50, Princeton 49.

How was this possible? you might ask. There was no shot clock in those days, so Princeton could take its sweet time before it took a shot—which was invariably a layup after dozens of screens, cuts, and passes.

Once the solons of the NCAA instituted the shot clock, games like this classic became impossible, and, I might add, marginal teams (i.e., those with an 12th or lower seed) never again had a chance to advance very far.

"God hates gay sex"


I just don't think this fellow's a good role model.
A seventh-grade math teacher has been ordered to undergo a mental-health evaluation after threatening two Connecticut lawmakers for backing a religious oversight measure.

Timothy Kane, 26, was charged with second-degree harassment after he sent an e-mail on March 10 to state senator Andrew McDonald and state representative Mike Lawlor, who are both reportedly openly gay.

According to the Stamford Advocate, the e-mail read, "You better hope myself and other Catholics don't find out where you live, cause there's hell to pay for your attack on the church. F--- off. God hates gay sex."
As they say in educational circles, the fellow was unable to restrain his impulsivity, as "Kane was angry at the time he wrote the email and soon after sending it was regretful."

Mr. Kane is an embarrassment to Roman Catholics and teachers everywhere and should never darken the door of a public school again. But that's just my own benighted opinion.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another Superannuated Senator


Today's specimen: Arlen Specter.

I've said it before: I don't know whom to get more upset with—the dinosaurs who insist on being taken out of the Senate in a bag, or the morons who keep re-electing them.

Bull Market?


The Dow Jones industrial average is now up 21 percent from its March 9 low. Technically, a gain of more than 20 percent signals a bull market.
Investing (or whatever it should be called these days) hasn't been too much fun for quite a while, but at least the activities of the last three weeks have kept us rubes entertained.

Bracketology, cont'd


This is probably the worst year I've ever had, bracketwise. I convinced myself that anything could happen, and then, sure enough, chalk pretty much ruled.

Having said that, there have been a few instances where the lower seed prevailed. The execrable Duke is gone, and another over-rated Memphis team is done after getting into the Sweet Sixteen. UConn continues to look pretty good; I just hope the Huskies avoid the horrid performances they evinced at various times during the regular season—I'm thinking particularly of the first Pittsburgh game when Thabeet was made virtually invisible by DeJuan Blair at home.

At any rate, Big East teams certainly have acquitted themselves well thus far, and, with two more teams in action tonight, we could have another 1985.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Another nation heard from


Under the umbrella of causing a problem by creating a solution, the do-gooders in Hartford who'd like to ban smoking in Connecticut's casinos might not have thought this through fully.
The Mohegan Indian tribe is threatening to withhold as much as $200 million in slot machine payments annually if the state legislature bans smoking at casinos, a potential major blow to the state budget.

In strongly worded letters to Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, tribal officials said Wednesday that a pending bill to ban smoking at the state's two casinos is unconstitutional and would violate the compact between the Mohegan Tribe and the state.

The letters were delivered after a bill was passed this week by the legislature's public health committee, on a 28-2 bipartisan vote, to ban smoking at the casinos.
Some commenters on the Courant's web site are of the opinion that smoking should be banned anyway—seeing the issue as entirely health-related. Their benighted opinions aren't unlike the earnest legislator's of a few days ago who wanted a tax created only for AIG personnel. Ignore the notion of a bill of attainder? No problem! Ignore the contractual obligations the state has with a sovereign nation? No problem!

This story still has a way to go, but it certainly won't be as easy a process as the state's impetuous legislators apparently thought it would.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Uh oh


Enjoy the Huskies' appearance in an NCAA tourney while you can.
The University of Connecticut violated NCAA rules during its recruitment of basketball player Nate Miles, an online report charges.

The report, by Yahoo! Sports, says that between 2006 and 2008 Miles was provided lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation by Josh Nochimson, a sports agent and former student and team manager at UConn in the late 1990s.
This sure doesn't bode well. The irony is that, to say the least, Miles wasn't worth the effort.
Miles, from Toledo, Ohio, was expelled from UConn Oct. 2 amid allegations he abused a female student. He was accused of becoming physical and trying to pressure her into sex. A restraining order was issued Sept. 22 and Miles was arrested for placing a call to the woman, a 19-year-old from Manchester, 16 minutes later.

"Home to arguably some of the best pizza pies in the country"


While I realize it might be a bit audacious posting this link to a blog where most of the readers are purveyors of the legendary Ray's, Famous Ray's, Original Ray's, Famous Original Ray's, Original Famous Ray's, and (the aforementioned) Legendary Ray's pizzerias, I can't help but think that I've had some mighty fine pizza in the Constitution State.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

White (House) Trash


After a while, it becomes impossible even to hear about various right-wingers' ravings, and one is forced to come to the conclusion that they evince a profound pathology.

Feel the Love


Salon's Alex Koppelman points out (with charts) that
these days, it’s fundamentally inaccurate to think that Democrats are any less the party of Wall Street than Republicans.

... Democrats have caught and, rather spectacularly, passed the GOP in donations from securities and investment firms and their employees.
Needless to say, with "Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner [having] ideas only Wall Street could love," it'll be interesting to see "how much bang they're getting for their buck."

Curt Schilling


Curt Schilling announced his retirement yesterday "with zero regrets." This morning on WEEI, the hysterics were discussing his prospects for entry into baseball's Hall of Fame, and they seemed to agree that he was deserving, especially due to his post-season successes.
Schilling, 42, won the World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, and with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 ...

The six-time All-Star ends his career with a 216-146 record and a 3.46 ERA with five teams since 1988. He ranks 14th on the all-time list with 3,116 strikeouts.
I suppose I'll give Mr. Bloody Sock a pass on this one, even though there's an episode I'll never forgive him for.

"Demonic Maniac"


Now we're talking!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Connecticut's 2010 Senatorial Election


... could be even worse than I thought.

Tweet! Tweet! conclusion


Seriously, I'm off the Twitter stories, but Chill sends along this gem.

Bozos like this might as well rent a billboard.

Requiescat in Pace


Howard Sloyer Luckenbach (March 23, 1924-January 12, 1994).

Al qaeda and cigarettes


Tobacco companies have always had to be aggressive in their advertising because their customers kept dying. It looks like al Qaeda may have found itself in the same boat as it relates to its zealous members.
For months now, counterterrorism officials have seen signs that al-Qaida has been looking for new and innovative ways to recruit terrorists, including a new manual that has surfaced on the Internet ... The book is so basic it seems to suggest al-Qaida is getting desperate for new members.
No surprise there, as its former members kept blowing themselves up.

Quote of the day (a day late)


The Obama administration has leaked the details of their banking fix, and as it
turns out, the whole thing might as well be titled Plan 9 From Goldman Sachs.
Jason Linkins on Huffington Post

A very distraught Paul Krugman has also chimed in: "Mr. Obama is squandering his credibility. If this plan fails — as it almost surely will — it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to persuade Congress to come up with more funds to do what he should have done in the first place."



As much as I despise the slavemasters at the NCAA, I have to admit that, for the second year in a row, they've been pretty prescient in their seedings.

Viz., the East and South regionals both have the 1-4 teams still in it, and the West and Midwest regionals each have the 1-3 teams still in it.

As much as I thought this year's tourney was going to be a crap shoot, it's pretty much devolved into chalk, and, with all of the #1 seeds in the Final Four of last year's tourney, it looks as if one could do a lot worse than just pick higher seeds.

(This post is also posted here.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tweet! Tweet! cont'd


This was pointed out to me by some family members last evening:
A Washington County [Arkansas] Circuit Court juror's Internet postings to Twitter.com during a civil trial is the subject of an appeal of a $12.6 million judgment.

A lawyer for Russell Wright and Stoam Holdings filed a motion Thursday asking for a new trial over the postings by "Juror Jonathan." The motion alleges the juror research information about the case and communicated with others outside the jury about the case.
Sigh. It's come to this.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Ivies


For years I ridiculed the idiocy of a certain Harvard MBA. Now it looks like yet another of the best and the brightest isn't acquitting himself too well.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Six years later


It was stupid then; it's at least as stupid now.
Iraq is marking the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, with some questioning whether recent security improvements will hold as U.S. troops begin to withdraw.

Supporters of the Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated against the continued presence of U.S. forces at a march in the Baghdad district of Sadr City. Protesters burned an American flag as a senior aide to the cleric Sheikh Haidar al-Jabari called for a larger rally on April 9.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told VOA Kurdish Service that although there have been significant security gains in Iraq, there are still problems that threaten the country's stability. He said he hopes the planned withdrawal of U.S. troops will not reverse the recent progress.
Something to look forward to ...

Greg Mitchell has more on today's infamous anniversary.

Crime news


I'm always amused when crimes go bad, and this story from Milwaukee is a good one:
Two robbers leaving a Milwaukee jewelry store with cash and gems didn't get far with the loot — another group of thieves robbed them as the pair left the crime scene. Police Lt. Thomas Welch says a fight broke out in the street Wednesday before the groups got in vehicles and a chase ensued.
Insert joke here.

Another Republican governor rejects found money


And, lo and behold, it's Governor Gogo.

Steve Benen comments:
Of the $288 million that Palin doesn't want, $170 million would go to education, including money that "would go for programs to help economically disadvantaged and special needs students." Other programs affected include "weatherization, energy efficiency grants, immunizations, air quality grants, emergency food assistance, homeless grants, senior meals, child care development grants, nutrition programs, homeless grants, arts, unemployment services, air quality, and justice assistance grants."

... Palin has never seen a federal dollar she didn't want, but now that some other far-right governors are trying to turn down economic recovery aid -- governors who might challenge her for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination -- Palin suddenly sees the benefit in turning down money that might help stimulate the Alaskan economy.

Palin had a choice -- people's interests or political posturing. Guess which one comes first?
So it goes in the Last Frontier.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More of the same


I see that Senators Sanctimony and Septuagenarian are at it again—beating the drums for total warfare in the Middle East.
A minimalist approach in Afghanistan is a recipe not for winning smarter but for losing slowly at tremendous cost in American lives, treasure and security ...
Their rationale for such a course of action is that such a war could be won and
our vital national interest in Afghanistan is to prevent it from once again becoming a haven for terrorists to plan attacks against America and U.S. allies.
And there's the nub of their argument: McCain's answer to just about anything is war, and Lieberman is deathly concerned about attacks against (unnamed but wholly obvious) U.S. allies.

Once upon a time, Senator Sanctimony had a brain in his head: He was a strident civil rights advocate and can still say the right things when it comes to various social issues. However, once he got religion, many bets were off. He supported the hideous McCain in 2008 and still, clearly, supports his foreign policy.

When Ron Silver died, I noticed the same thing had happened to him. Here was a guy who'd supported Clinton in the 90s, was strident in his defense of the First Amendment, was president of Actors Equity, and yet felt compelled to speak on the Republicans' behalf in New York City in August, 2004.

As the Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg once said, “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” Both Lieberman and Silver were good people; it's too bad they allowed their religion to take them to the dark side.

Oh, the Bureaucracy!


During the campaign season, and particularly during the debates, it was hard not to play a little armchair quarterback. But one thing that really bothered me was Obama's inability to fight back against McCain's repetitive argument that having the government more involved with healthcare coverage was undesirable because it would be confusing and bureaucratic.

I mean, have these people ever dealt with an insurance company or tried to choose a plan? (Of course in McCain's case, the answer was likely no). It's confusing and bureaucratic! I thought Obama missed an opportunity to point out that government may not be perfect, but it's not like it would be replacing a system that anyone enjoys, fully understands, etc. It's pretty easy to use the health insurance industry as the bad guy to which you contrast your plan. Which would hopefully be a fairer and cheaper version at the least, if not more smoothly operated.

Anywho, the reason that this randomly came back up was that over at Pandagon is a real world illustration about why the "goverment will be too bureaucratic and confusing" argument is dumb. And I think enough people have been frustrated with the current system (or know someone who has) that it becomes less of a hard sell.

Conniving Chris


It kind of beggars belief how stupid Connecticut's senior senator has become right before our eyes.
On Tuesday, Dodd said that he was not a member of the conference committee that crafted the final compromise bill and said that the exception had not been in the bill as he drafted it.

But late Wednesday, Dodd admitted in an interview with CNN that he had been involved [in key legislative changes that helped pave the way for AIG to pay controversial bonuses to its employees].
This story rates a banner headline in this morning's Courant. Needless to say, the paper points out that the state's most celebrated philanderer is "already reeling in public opinion polls." This certainly doesn't help, at least in my eyes. And, as dim a bulb as I think Rob Simmons is, at least he's not the overt liar that the five-term senator is.

Meanwhile, on a more local level, the state's Senate President, Donald E. Williams Jr.,
on Wednesday proposed a special 80 percent state tax on the bonuses received by AIG insurance executives working here ... Williams said the bill is appropriate because those employees helped wreck the nation's and Connecticut's economies.
Now, I'm hardly a fan of AIG's greed, but I'd hope that Connecticut's legislators would have at least a passing acquaintance with the contents of the document the state refers to in its nickname.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Sporting Goods

Posting this for Monocle's benefit:
Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva got a talking-to from Skiles after the coach learned Villanueva posted a message to his Twitter feed -- a "tweet" -- from his mobile phone during halftime of Sunday's home victory over the Boston Celtics.

"We made a point to Charlie and the team that it's nothing we ever want to happen again," Skiles said after practice Tuesday. "You know, [we] don't want to blow it out of proportion. But anything that gives the impression that we're not serious and focused at all times is not the correct way we want to go about our business."

Using the screen name "CV31" -- Villanueva's initials and jersey number -- Villanueva posted the following message during halftime Sunday:

"In da locker room, snuck to post my twitt. We're playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up."
I don't even know if I care but I know I don't believe it.

The state of the papacy


In one of his most quoted assertions, St. Ronald said in March, 1987,
"A few months ago[,] I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages [in the Iran-Contra debacle]. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not."
Such an outrageous statement pretty much gives the lie to any kind of logic at all, and today Joe Ratzinger showed that such foolishness is, unfortunately, still with us.
The pontiff said condoms were not the answer to [Africa's] fight against HIV and Aids and could make the problem worse.
Does this make any sense to anyone at all? It certainly has
outraged health agencies trying to halt the spread of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, where an estimated 22 million people are infected.
As it turned out, Reagan was suffering from the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Oh, that the pope had such an excuse.

The conspiracy of the Fourth Estate, cont'd


Jamison Foser adds his two cents on the media's chumminess with the powers that be, focusing on Richard Cohen.
It is astonishing to see someone who has spent his entire career working in the news media - and reached the lofty heights of the Washington Post op-ed pages - have so little belief in the importance and influence of his profession, and expect so little of it. Richard Cohen thinks it's fine for journalists to simply reflect the spirit of the time. He thinks it's fine for journalists to defer to the judgment of the powerful people they cover.
I suspect this, too, shall pass, but Jon Stewart sure did open a Pandora's box when he grilled Jim Cramer the other night.

A return to sanity?


Steve Benen points out this morning that
A new Gallup Poll finds just over half of Americans, 53%, favoring a new law that would make it easier for labor unions to organize workers; 39% oppose it. This is a key issue at stake with the Employee Free Choice Act now being considered in Congress.

The poll reveals sharply differing reactions to the issue within the general public according to political orientation. Most Democrats (70%) say they would favor a law that facilitates union organizing, while a majority of Republicans (60%) say they would oppose it. Independents lean in favor of such a law, 52% vs. 41%.
Coincidentally, I'm in the midst of reading Thomas Geoghegan's incisive article in the current Harper's (available only with subscription) wherein he opines that three factors put the US into its current financial mess.

First, union busting became pretty much SOP as, second, corporations were allowed to "cancel existing contracts virtually at will." Finally, "we dismantled the most ancient of human laws, the law against usury." (Thank you, Ronald Reagan.)

With these factors in place,
the financial sector bloats up ... When banks get 25 to 30 percent on credit cards ... capital flees from honest pursuits, like auto manufacturing.
I have to admit that I'm a little distrustful of Congress's attempt to revive unions, believing as I do that our legislative oligarchs—Republican or Democrat—really don't want to strengthen the middle class.

Be that as it may, it's possible that EFCA may address at least one of the concerns that Geoghegan raises.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The AIG story


So many other blogs are discussing the AIG debacle so well that I'm hesitant to add anything. I'll say only this: It's no surprise to me that Edward Liddy is maintaining that "contracts" mandate that his minions receive $400 million in bonuses. This seems no different from the WMD charade the Bushies foisted on the American taxpayer starting six years ago.

And I say good for Andrew Cuomo, who's a bit dubious about the reality of the "contracts," as it seems to me he should be.

This story has a long way to go and is really just a symptom of the financial malfeasance that 99% of Americans have had to put up with for the last thirty years.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dodd's Problems


From the underemployed Colin McEnroe this morning:
There's a good chance that 2010 will be a lot like 1980, one of those elections where the voters are so miserable they just want to fire somebody. Voters may head to the polls hating both Republicans and Democrats. Political aspirants should consider running on some alternative ticket, such as the Working Bowlers Party.

If this happens, [Connecticut Senator Chris] Dodd could probably relinquish all of his properties and walk around in a robe healing lepers from Naugatuck to Pomfret and still lose.

Dodd's also sacrificed the aura of invincibility after he bet his political reputation on the [2008] Iowa caucuses ... His reward was one precinct delegate out of a possible 2,501 ... Dodd actually ran a smart, principled, articulate campaign, but when you crash and burn like that, people suddenly realize you ain't fireproof.
So the 2010 campaign apparently has begun. I suppose I'll be able to handle it as long as it doesn't turn out like 1994's horrid beginning-of-the-end midterm election.

"A rare and difficult attainment"


As one who has opined that, as life spans go, the 19th century average of fifty years seems about right (contrary to the psalmist), I find this article more than a little interesting.
A new study has revealed that many well-known effects of ageing may start decades before the twilight years when old age is often blamed for causing many people to misplace keys, forget a word or lose the train of thought.

In fact, according to the researchers, people's mental abilities begin to decline from the age of 27 after reaching a peak at 22.
Good luck to all the thirtysomethings who read this blog; apparently, it's all downhill from here.

"So outrageous as to be almost humorous"


This morning's bailout story:
The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses by Sunday to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.
So it goes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Conspiracy of the Fourth Estate


Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.
— Mark Twain

Now that the hubbub concerning the Stewart-Cramer confrontation is ebbing, Glenn Greenwald puts his finger on what, exactly, Stewart was so upset about, viz., that CNBC (owned by GE, the twelfth largest corporation in the world) would allow "scheming CEOs" to spout wholesale falsehoods on the network and then fail to investigate those claims. (Daniel Sinker also sees Stewart's point.)

While Greenwald is willing to "give credit to Cramer for facing his critics and addressing (and even acknowledging the validity of) the criticisms," he points out that
By stark contrast, most of our major media stars simply ignore all criticisms of their corrupt behavior and literally suppress it (even if the criticisms appear as major, lengthy front-page exposés in The New York Times).

Perhaps the most egregious instance of this media cowardice is that there are very few occasions when media stars were willing to address criticisms of their behavior in the run-up to the war. With very few exceptions, they have systematically ignored the criticisms that have been voiced from many sources about the CNBC-like role they played in the dissemination of pre-Iraq-War and other key Bush falsehoods. But on those very few occasions when they were forced to address these issues, their responses demonstrate that they said and did exactly what we're all going to spend today mocking and deriding Cramer and CNBC for having done—and they continue, to this day, to do that.
One might say in Cramer's defense that everyone does it. (God knows too many politicos use that excuse.) That, of course, is exactly what's wrong with American reporting: Slipshod journalistic methods have led to financial ruin and, too frequently, to death itself.

Banal Timesuck


In a masterful coup de grâce, Gary Trudeau provides a melding of vapid form to his vapid subject in what assumes is his last comment on the Twitter phenomenon:

Friday, March 13, 2009

Back to the Future


Give me strength.
Joe Lieberman ... who was the [Democratic] party's vice-presidential nominee in 2000 but now calls himself an "Independent Democrat" after his 2006 primary loss, says friends have asked him if he's going to become a Democrat again in time to run for reelection in 2012. And, The Hill reports, if he's not exactly jumping at the prospect, he isn't ruling it out, either.

"It’s a ways away," Lieberman told the paper. "I'm an independent Democrat, and that gives me options."
The state's junior senator will be a not-so-spry 70 years old in 2012. One has to hope that one of his "options" is retirement.

Tweet! Tweet! cont'd


Today's sign of the Apocalypse: Governor Clubwoman has more than 800 friends on Facebook, and tweets to boot.



When I heard that Jim Cramer was going to appear on the Stewart show, I eagerly set up my VCR for what was bound to be a contentious program. It turns out my information wasn't entirely accurate.

Cake eating


South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's unbelievable announcement this week that he may reject nearly a quarter of the money headed to his state in the stimulus plan made me think that if ever a modern oligarch was guilty of a "let them eat cake" attitude, this was it.

In turn, this thought led me to wonder if Marie Antoinette's utterance of the infamous statement had, in fact, occurred. As it turns out, not really.

No matter. Sanford's attitude is disgraceful.

Back at it


I can't imagine how much the state of California has spent in its vendetta against Phil Spector, but the cost must easily be in the tens of millions of dollars.

At any rate,
The defense in Phil Spector's murder retrial rested its case [yesterday] with the testimony of a memory expert summoned to undermine a key prosecution witness.

UC Irvine professor Elizabeth Loftus summarized research suggesting that certain circumstances -- including stress, fear and exhaustion -- can lead witnesses to misremember events.
In other words, "Who're you gonna believe? Me, or your lyin' ears?"

The whole thing has become ridiculous, especially in light of the fact that California's projected deficit for the next year and a half is a cool $42 billion.


Pre-Bracket Blusterings, cont'd


The UConn men can now officially kiss their NCAA number 1 seeding goodbye. (Pittsburgh may be in the same boat, as may Oklahoma.)

Needless to say, this year's tournament will be a real crap shoot, and I wish everyone luck in their various office pools.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ethical ratio


While no chastisement seems adequate to punish Bernard Madoff, he nevertheless stands to garner 150 years in prison once he's sentenced on June 16.

Meanwhile, in another courtroom, one Muntazer al-Zaidi was sentenced to three years in prison for hurling leather projectiles at a head of state.

To quantify, then: Bilking people out of $65 billion (at last count) is fifty times worse than tossing shoes at a war criminal.



The Obamans have pretty much irked everybody with their economic strategies, and as Bob Reich explains, there's plenty for people of all political stripes not to like. Or, as the former Rhodes Scholar puts it: "If you look only at the small print, Obamanomics looks conservative. If you look at the big picture, it's revolutionary."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm glad I don't live in Minnesota, cont'd


I can't imagine being inundated with news like this on a daily basis:
Norm Coleman’s Senate campaign said [today] that the private information of its supporters has probably been breached and is encouraging them to cancel their credit cards.

Coleman backers began receiving e-mails Tuesday night from an e-mail address at wikileaks.org stating that it possessed personal information about them and was preparing to post it online.

The same address stated in an e-mail early Wednesday morning that "we have discovered that all on-line Coleman contributors had their full credit card details released onto the Internet on 28 of [January], 2009, by Coleman's staff."
God, we all knew he was stupid, but not this stupid.

Merit Pay


The notion of merit pay for teachers has started to rear its head again. This certainly isn't surprising to me, since Obama broached the issue last year and also in 2007.

Be that as it may, it's a facile solution to various (for the most part, urban) areas' educational shortcomings. I certainly don't believe that all teachers are good in the classroom, and perforce I don't believe that all teachers' positions should be sacrosanct. As Obama so glibly puts it: "I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences." Well, don't we all? (And it'll be interesting to see just how assiduously the Obamans demonstrate this stance as they investigate various felonious financial mavens--and various Bushies, for that matter.)

Nevertheless, teachers being hired today are the cream of the crop. With no teacher shortage, principals and other administrators can choose from a plethora of outstanding candidates. Thus, it's unlikely that the system is rewarding failure, since teachers aren't failing their students.

If anything, this is an administrative issue. I.e., if a teacher is somehow not cutting it, it's up to her supervisor to get her the heck out of the building. No amount of financial incentive will change her performance.

Another aspect of this, which Obama appears not to have even considered, is what to do with other contracted personnel, such as librarians and guidance counselors, who stand to gain nothing by his suggestion. It seems at the least unfair that only a portion of a school system's bargaining unit would be eligible for a bonus; the working conditions portion of a contract might get pretty interesting.

Moreover, with schools laying off teachers to an alarming degree, it's problematic as to whether school districts will have the funds (or willingness) to give teachers more money than they're contracted to receive.

And it's long been known that a high correlation exists between family income and success on standardized tests. Thus, any attempt to improve scores in lower socioeconomic venues will be difficult at best.

Teachers' unions aren't rejecting the idea out of hand, and so there are a lot of miles to go before we sleep on this issue.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How the mighty have fallen, cont'd


Today's example: James J. Cramer. I'm embarrassed to say that I once thought he had a brain in his head.

Simmons and Dodd


This is what happens when a superannuated legislator has outworn his welcome.
A new Quinnipiac University Poll shows U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd facing a tough re-election bid in 2010 if his challenger is former Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Simmmons of Stonington.

If the election were held today, Dodd would garner 42 percent of those surveyed while Simmons would win 43 percent.
Of course, the 64-year-old Dodd won't budge in 2010 even if his opponent turns out to be another dinosaur who's already shown his lack of popularity in the state.

Aye Queue


Those male readers of this blog of a certain age may be interested in the following:
The children of older fathers scored lower than the offspring of younger fathers on I.Q. tests and a range of other cognitive measures at 8 months old, 4 years old and 7 years old, according to a study released Monday that added to a growing body of evidence suggesting risks to postponing fatherhood.

The study is the first to show that the children of older fathers do not perform as well on cognitive tests at young ages ...

Regardless of their mothers’ ages, children whose fathers were 50 years old had lower scores on all tests, except those assessing physical coordination, than those whose fathers were 20, the researchers found. And the older the fathers, the more likely the children were to have lower scores, they found.
No pressure, but for those who'd like their kids to be as smart as possible, time's a-wasting.

Monday, March 09, 2009

More macaroni and cheese


Apparently, Governor Clubwoman thinks that highway safety may trump income for the state.
Following a Connecticut College student's death Saturday in an accident that police attributed to drunken driving, Gov. M. Jodi Rell will "rethink" her proposal to extend the drinking hours at casinos ...

"This was an unconscionable tragedy and the heartbreaking loss of a very special young lady," Rell said Sunday through her spokesman, Christopher Cooper. "Even though this event occurred under the laws on the books for years, it does give one pause to question the wisdom of extending liquor service hours at the casinos."
It's hard to believe that the governor could be any more patronizing in this episode.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Nobody could have predicted


Under the category of "sowing what you reap," Connecticut's New London High School has only itself to blame for this latest transgression.
Jack Cochran reportedly has resigned as New London High School baseball coach amid allegations he once again acted unethically in his coaching duties.

Cochran resigned Friday, according to The Day of New London, after allegations that he knew of and allowed out-of-season baseball practices in the high school gym.
Of course, it remains to be seen how this will affect crooked Cochran's real job—that of the school's football coach—but, given this episode (and his pedigree), it seems inevitable that he'll soon crash and burn again.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pre-bracket Bluster


The UConn men have convinced me that they simply cannot defeat the University of Pittsburgh no matter what the venue.

Friday, March 06, 2009

What's good for the goose ...


This will never happen, but it's amusing to think about.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity ...

Could the ICC's decision set a precedent?

According to David Crane, an international law professor at Syracuse University, the principle of law used to issue an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir could extend to former U.S. President Bush over claims officials from his Administration may have engaged in torture by using coercive interrogation techniques on terror suspects. Crane is a former prosecutor of the Sierra Leone tribunal that indicted Liberian President Charles Taylor and put him on trial in The Hague.
Ultimately DOA, but still uplifting for us radicals.

Apparently, we've been here before


They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party [emphasis added], often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.
— From George Washington's "Farewell Address"
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past with scant hope of getting out of the abyss Republicans have placed us in.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Quote of the day


"If only I'd followed CNBC's advice, I'd have a million dollars, provided I'd started with a hundred million dollars."
Jon Stewart on last night's Daily Show after CNBC's
Rick Santelli unceremoniously canceled on him

The end of an era


Even though the school's web site is intact,
The Connecticut School of Broadcasting [has] shut its doors without warning. Students and teachers alike are stunned ...

Dozens of students showed up at the Farmington campus ready for finals. Instead, they found a note pinned to the door. The CT School of Broadcasting is closed; they are out $12,000 and graduation was next week.
The school was an idea that never made much sense to me, although I know there have been some successful graduates.

At any rate, it looks like the state is rid of its heinous commercials.

Tweet! Tweet!


Gary Trudeau is currently lampooning the Twitter craze, and I don't blame him. That people are broadcasting their every activity seems to me to be the height of self-indulgence, and the fact that people are actually following this tripe is the height of lifelessness.

A few months ago, DarLucky (oh so gently) reproved me when I started to indicate similar minutiae on the "What are you doing now?" portion of Facebook, indicating that Facebook protocol was such that readers who saw this kind of thing really were offended by it. I quickly saw the accuracy of his argument and desisted immediately.

Now it seems that Twitter allows such activities to occur. This, apparently, is progress.

UPDATE - And Friday's Doonesbury is even better!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Class warfare


It'd be nice if people understood that the tax increases the Obamans are proposing will affect 5% of American taxpayers—those taxpayers who make more than a quarter million dollars a year. Nevertheless, morons like Hannity, Limbaugh, et al, are hammering this point precisely because it affects them and not the vast majority of their listeners.

And now it turns out that Democratic senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Ben Nelson (D-NE), who should certainly know better, are also expressing their misgivings about the plan.
Bayh said, “I do think that before we raise revenue, we first should look to see if there are ways we can cut back on spending.”

... The median household income in Indiana is $42,000 a year. Families making that much would not see tax increases under Obama’s plan. Families making double the Indiana median household income would not see tax increases under Obama’s plan. Families making double that would not see tax increases under Obama’s plan. Only families making almost six times the median household income of Indiana would see increases; increases that would essentially take us back to the rates that prevailed during the more prosperous 1990s.
It's becoming more and more rare that anyone is speaking for the middle class in all of this. Certainly, many media outlets aren't, and for millionaire senators of the majority party to question the efficacy of tax cuts for the vast majority of their constituents pretty much shows whose interests they're most concerned about.

Emergency! Emergency!


(In best Lewis Black imitation) There are no more McNuggets left! There are no more McNuggets!

As Huck Finn said, it's enough to make a body ashamed of the human race.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Ready when you are


A slow news day in the Constitution State as everybody's still digging out. After the entire state was pretty much closed yesterday, things got started a little slowly today.

This is the week of the dreaded standardized tests in the state, and, with the snow, school districts were given the option to do whatever they wanted: either start them today or tomorrow. It's a rather half fast way to administer what's supposed to be a secure test, but hardly a surprising decision, considering the source.

And speaking of security, BDL's has been shown to be a little lax.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Republican groveling


Demonstrating once again that El Rushbo really is the head of the Republican Party (more than a little dangerous when one considers that he doesn't know the first thing about the Constitution), we find that
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”

“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
This whole thing really is hilarious.

But they all seemed so trustworthy


From the idiots who brought you the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Panama, Iran-Contra, and other debacles too numerous to recite, we now have this.
The CIA destroyed 92 controversial interrogation videos, Justice Department documents showed Monday, in a new twist in the tape scandal which may fuel more allegations of Bush-era abuses ...

So far the Central Intelligence Agency has only admitted to destroying several tapes -- which are said to show that "war on terror" suspects were tortured or water-boarded -- to protect its employees from any Al-Qaeda reprisals.

According to The New York Times, the tapes show the harsh interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, suspected of being a leading Al-Qaeda member, and Abdel Rahim al-Nashiri, believed to have been involved in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen.
Needless to say, the ACLU (to which a membership renewal is going as I write this), which brought a FOIA suit against the moronic group of spies is aghast:
"This [situation] provides further evidence for holding the CIA in contempt of court," ACLU staff attorney Amrit Singh said in a statement. "The large number of videotapes destroyed confirms that the agency engaged in a systemic attempt to hide evidence of its illegal interrogations and to evade the court's order. Our contempt motion has been pending in court for over a year now -- it is time to hold the CIA accountable for its flagrant disregard for the rule of law."
Of course, this accountability will never happen (at least, not in public) even in an Obama administration, but it's pretty to think so.

I've said for decades that the CIA has outworn its usefulness because of its ineffectiveness. This episode, however, demonstrates not just incompetence, but malfeasance.

And for those people who've urged me to "let go" of the madness of the last eight years, I can only retort that this type of situation is indicative of what confronts us: months and months (if not years and years) of trying to heal the wounds the Bushies inflicted on the US.

Dodd v. Kudlow?


AKA, how do Connecticut voters like their poison?

Sadly, this is just another example of the sorry state of American politics, where only free market morons like Kudlow are worthy of consideration by Republicans and incumbents feel as if their position is for life.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Taking their ball ...


It's hard to believe that anyone would approve of the childish Republican strategy of impeding any kind of government progress only so they can say they told us so, but more than one in three Americans are willing to do just that.

I think Steve Benen sums up the current situation best:
It's possible that my memory is off, but I can't recall ever hearing so many prominent political figures hoping for American leaders' failure like this, especially not in the midst of a crisis.

That it's coming from ideologues who believe they have the edge on "patriotism" -- and insist that Bush's liberal critics were guilty of "treason" -- just makes this all the more bizarre.

About a half-century ago, actor John Wayne, who was very conservative, was asked for his thoughts after JFK defeated Richard Nixon in 1960. "I didn't vote for him," Wayne said, "but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job."
It's clear that the nominal leader of today's Republican party is Rush Limpbaugh, who hopes for Obama's failure out of sheer spite. It's disheartening to realize that a third of Americans are willing to buy into this utterly shameless stance.

Life imitating art imitating life


Both Hollywood and Bollywood have been atwitter with this recent story:
Days after his whirlwind Oscars-and-Disney tour of Los Angeles, ten-year-old 'Slumdog Millionaire' actor Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail was physically disciplined in the presence of onlookers in the Dharavi slum in Bandra, Mumbai [Thursday]. The Sun reports that the child actor was slapped and kicked by his father for refusing to speak to the press a day after his lengthy return flight from the United States.
I mention this only because I saw Slumdog Millionaire last evening, and, while it's what I'd call a nice picture, it's hard to believe it's better than its competitors for Best Picture Oscar®. Perhaps this wasn't the year to select a homosexually-oriented movie (Or, perhaps, any movie with Sean Penn in it is Oscar®worthy.), or a politically-tinged one. At any rate, SM just didn't seem to me to have the power of other winners I've seen.

UPDATE — I see that we haven't seen the last of unfortunate stories concerning SM's child stars.