Friday, April 30, 2010



Just kill me: While the Connecticut state legislature spins its wheels in re a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, it has no problems giving
final legislative approval to a bill honoring veterans of the Vietnam War.

The Senate passed the bill on Thursday, sending it to Gov. M. Jodi Rell's desk for her signature. The vote was 35-0.
I'm off to the Keystone State for the weekend, where I may or may not post.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A crack in the firmament


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that
a representative from the NCAA, which has been investigating [the UConn men's basketball] program for possible recruiting violations, has informed the school that investigators have found violations and will be issuing a report in the near future.
With the program in the worst shape it's been in in twenty years, this could get interesting.

Quote of the Day


It was pretty much the same speech for everybody. Go to Triple A,
do your job, and when there’s a need, be ready. He did that.
— Red Sox manager Terry Francona on the success
Darnell MacDonald has had with the team recently
MacDonald was called up to replace the ailing Jacoby Ellsbury for a little while, but with his carrying a big offensive load for the Olde Towne Team (He had a hand in both the Sox' runs last night.), it's problematic as to whether MacDonald will go back down any time soon.

Anticipating Events


Yesterday the news broke that—unsurprisingly—China had used an underage gymnast in the 2000 Olympics and had been ordered by the IOC to return its bronze team medals post haste. I had to think when the story broke that China might be a bit reluctant to do so.

Today, it turns out I was right.

I've got to think that ultimately the IOC will be forced to craft other medals to give to the US sextet, as there'll be no way it'll get any compliance from China.

Cutting the fat


Principals at dozens of Broward County [Florida] public schools have given librarians and teachers of art, music and physical education a choice: Take a pay cut of almost 50 percent, or take your chances waiting for a job to open up at another school.

... [One phys. ed. teacher] said his principal called him into her office last week and said the PE program was being cut in half for next school year and so was his $42,450 annual salary. He could work four hours a day, 20 hours a week, and maintain his benefits. Should [he] decide not to take the cut, he'll go on the district's surplus list, a pool of teachers vying for full-time positions based on job availability and seniority.
I suppose situations like this were inevitable—and, certainly, I anticipate many similar events in the near future.

As long as the Tea Party mentality continues (i.e., no taxes for any purpose at any time), as long as public education is responsible for the crippling obligations of special needs, as long as the current taxing policies are in place, situations like this will become commonplace.

The Obamans can tinker with NCLB all they want, but the problems of public education are much more profound than a half fast program like "Race to the Top" can resolve.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dear Mr. Epstein, (part 2)


Thank you for your prompt response.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Mr. Epstein,


How's that pitching and defense strategy working out for you so far?

Get in line


Regarding an event whose time surely has not come, Random House has announced that
[f]ormer President George W. Bush’s memoir, Decision Points, will be released ... on Nov. 9. Mr. Bush will write about political and personal challenges and discuss his handling of events including the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, as well as his embracing of his faith amid his effort to quit drinking.

... The book will be released in hardcover and in audio and e-book formats. Mr. Bush will also go on a national tour for the book.
It's that last phrase that's jumping out at me: It's impossible to imagine the logistics of such a tour—metal detectors and heavily armed Secret Service men in a Barnes & Noble near you. The author, after all, isn't exactly Harlan Coben.

UPDATE — Make them stop!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

This just in ...


Republicans are the party of the plutocrats.

Golly. Who knew?

Good money after bad


Mets fans are probably aware of this, but
Next year former outfielder Bobby Bonilla goes back on the payroll at the ripe old age of 48.

In 1999, Bonilla returned to the Mets for a second stint at Shea following his borderline disastrous free-agent signing in 1992. Bonilla wasn't any better the second time around, so the Mets waived him in 2000. The problem was that the team still owed Bonilla $5.9 million in guaranteed salary.

Bonilla's agents worked out a deal with the Mets where he would defer the salary if the team would pay him $1,193,248.20 every July 1 from 2011 to 2035. Not a bad deal for someone who was so bad the team basically paid him to go away.
For those counting, that's a cool $29,831,205 total.

Other interesting player perks can be found here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sycophancy 101


I suppose BO can't please me all the time, and he sure didn't do so with his visit today to Jesse Helms fan, sire to the execrable Franklin, nonagenarian Billy Graham.

Perhaps he's still running away from his relationship with his erstwhile mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Who is this character


... and why is he in the news?

(Answer is here.)

Neglecting their fiduciary responsibilities


The salacious activities of too many SEC employees might be amusing were it not for the fact that, as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, puts it, it's
"nothing short of disturbing that high-ranking officials within the S.E.C. were spending more time looking at pornography than taking action to help stave off the events that brought our nation’s economy to the brink of collapse ... This stunning report should make everyone question the wisdom of moving forward with plans to give regulators like the S.E.C. even more widespread authority."
Indeed, the Obamans' economic reform plans include giving the SEC more power in overseeing various financial strategies. It'll be interesting to see if any federal legislators now think this is a good idea.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Note to self


If you're going to watch at all, continue to watch the NFL Network's coverage of the NFL draft; apparently ESPN's effort last night was awful.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quote of the Day


He doesn't care about the future because he died four years ago.
Bill Simmons on Al Davis as the latter approaches this evening's NFL draft
Enjoy the show tonight, folks.

Responding to last year's recession


This morning's Courant reports that
About 2,000 teaching jobs statewide are set to be eliminated in June as school boards resort to layoffs to cut expenses during difficult budget deliberations.
This while
Three thousand jobs were added in Connecticut in March ... Jobs have been added each month for at least the last three months [and] Connecticut's unemployment rate is lower than the national average.
As one who's had to play this expense cutting game recently, I'm not entirely happy that towns have chosen to cut services while their abilities to pay remain stable.

The truth of the matter is that too many people are listening to the false doomsday prophecies of the Glenn Becks of the world—which have nothing to do with economics and everything to do with their antipathy for Barack the Magic Negro—and reacting hysterically. Unfortunately, it's public employees who have been, and will continue, paying for this racism.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What a mess


A few thoughts on the volcano story ...

First, it seems to be every bit as bad as Katrina:
International Air Transport Association Director General and Chief Executive Giovanni Bisignani said in a statement on Wednesday that he expects it will take the airline industry at least three years to recover from the volcano crisis.
Second, I've never heard the name of the volcano pronounced; American newscasters aren't even trying to pronounce "Eyjafjallajokull" and consistently refer to it as the "Iceland volcano."

Finally, while I can't imagine the frustration of waiting in an airport for days for a flight that may or may not depart, I have to admit that I'm getting a little tired of the Eyjafjallajokull story. Both NPR and Charles Osgood devoted much too much time to passengers' inconveniences this morning. We get it already: It's a pain. Can we now move on to something at least as important, like, oh, whether or not the country's economic system will survive?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It depends on what your definition of "ten" is


This is a story that's going to have some legs.
[I]f recent reports are to be believed ... the heads of the Big Ten schools were meeting to decide if they should accelerate their expansion talks ... to become a 14- or 16-team league. As an added kicker, there is a series of BCS meetings scheduled for later this week, so if the Big Ten is looking to expand, that would be the logical place to start the talks.
Now, this is where the story gets interesting on a parochial level because, lo and behold, CBS's Dennis Dodd ranks a certain New England university at number 2 of "the Big Ten expansion candidates."

UConn and Michigan have a home and home football series coming up. Might the matchup become an annual affair?

Monday, April 19, 2010

DC Shenanigans


Having spent the last four days in the DC area, I heard a few things about the city's Superintendent of Schools, Michelle Rhee. Heretofore, while I thought the Dragon Lady would be challenging to work for, I thought her heart was more or less in the right place.

Now, though, juat as the Washington Teachers Union was prepared to sign a contract allowing 266 teachers to be laid off in the city, it turns out that DC schools have a $34 million budget surplus and not the $43 million deficit that Supt. Rhee projected a few months ago. Needless to say, the union
has asked a court to reopen its lawsuit against D.C. Public Schools over last fall's layoffs of 266 teachers, following questions about the system's budget.
To say that the superintendent's actions seem duplicitous is to give her more credit than she deserves, and I'm no longer entirely sure I'd enjoy working in a system she led.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bye Bye Bysiewicz


Taking a position akin to the "any Catholic male" criterion of the Church of Rome, Connecticut's under-qualified Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz opined yesterday that "it’s her civil right to run" for the state's Attorney General position. Needless to say, a number of people weren't buying it, and I'm not either.

Off to the nation's capital for a few days. I'd like to think the place isn't quite as parochial as the Constitution State, but I'd only be kidding myself.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Even the National Review thinks Holy Joe is an idiot


The country's most venerable conservative publication thinks Senator Sanctimony should back off from his insistence that certain earnest Arabs be identified as "Islamic extremists."
[I]t would be desirable if the distinguished senator from Connecticut, who chairs the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, would refrain from characterizing the enemy as “Islamic extremists,” as a way of disassociating them from the many millions of Muslims, at home and abroad, who are not determined to destroy us. Our foes are most accurately depicted as adherents to Shariah — the virulently intolerant, supremacist, and totalitarian ideology of authoritative Islam — not as “extremists” who are somehow ... “hijacking” the religion of peace.
Oh that the forces that the junior senator prefers could be as lily white as he'd like jihadists to be.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Just asking


Why haven't I ever heard of this organization heretofore?

Monday, April 12, 2010

The latest attack on teachers


Florida, the state that's brought us a number of Bushes and that has the highest average age in the country, is about to
eliminate tenure protection and tie teacher pay to student performance ...

The bills, SB 6 and HB 7189, make it easier to fire teachers based upon the scores students receive on standardized tests. The proposals have already been passed by the Legislature and now await the signature of Gov. Charlie Crist.
Thus, Florida's teachers are about to be assessed by how well their non-standardized students fare on standardized tests. And once those poor pedagogues lose their jobs, the state will find more and "better" teachers whose students will perform exactly the way their predecessors did.

Florida's educators and students aren't taking this nonsense lying down:
[H]undreds of teachers called in sick today in the Miami-Dade school district, while students at numerous schools held "sit ins" before class to voice opposition to the legislation.
The ball is now in Charlie Crist's court, and to say he's facing a dilemma as he tries to win votes against the hideous Mario Rubio in the upcoming Republican senatorial primary would be an understatement.

[Emended to refer to the correct primary.]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our wartime presidents


I guess I'll have to get used to the fact that US presidents will continue to get the republic involved in senseless wars against nonthreatening countries. This has been the case for my entire life and apparently will go on until my dying day (and beyond). I had some hope for BO, of course, but I just wasn't paying enough attention due to my antipathy for Georgie AWOL and Senator Sanctimony.

At any rate, this story shows the tragedy of such belligerence.

Friday, April 09, 2010

The tip of the iceberg?


After months of insisting "that [Pope] Benedict played no role in blocking the removal of pedophile priests during his years as head of the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog office," it now turns out that
the future Pope Benedict XVI resisted pleas to defrock a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children, citing concerns including "the good of the universal church," according to a 1985 letter bearing his signature.
It never ceases to amuse and amaze me that when autocrats commit some kind of malfeasance, they think they can stonewall it. But when the activity is inevitably discovered, the stonewalling has done more damage to their reputations than the original misdeed.

It doesn't look like this scenario will change any time soon.

It's all about them


Here's a story that stands on its own (de)merits:
Protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to the Upper Big Branch mine Thursday morning to convey the message that the explosion there that left 25 miners dead was a result of e-mail messages allegedly sent from West Virginia threatening the Church and its publisher, according to a statement from the Church.
God, I just despise these people.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

This week's villain


The more I hear about Massey Energy's Don Blankenship, the less impressed I am.

It's as if Animal Farm's Napoleon has come to life, and all his employees are just expendable Boxers.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Quote of the Day


"If she’s on our team, we win."
— Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer on Maya Moore's 23 point, 11 rebound
performance in UConn's national championship win last night
And there is dancing in the streets of the Constitution State.

St. Peter called them*


I'll be interested to see if this goes anywhere:
Rescue workers began the precarious task Tuesday of removing explosive methane gas from the coal mine where at least 25 miners died the day before. The mine owner’s dismal safety record, along with several recent evacuations of the mine, left federal officials and miners suggesting that Monday’s explosion might have been preventable.

In the past two months, miners had been evacuated three times from the Upper Big Branch because of dangerously high methane levels, according to two miners who asked for anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. Representative Nick J. Rahall II, a Democrat whose district includes the mine, said he had received similar reports from miners about recent evacuations at the mine, which as recently as last month was fined at least three times for ventilation problems, according to federal records.

The Massey Energy Company, the biggest coal mining business in central Appalachia and the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine, has drawn sharp scrutiny and fines from regulators over its safety and environmental record.
This is what happens when free marketers and anti-environmentalists get their way. This is what happens when enforcers are lax or nonexistent.

Mining has always been a gamble, but it shouldn't have to be suicidal.

*For arcane musical reference, see here.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

He "wouldn't take no for an answer"


This gets my vote for funniest local story of the last number of months, although I'm relieved nothing untoward occurred.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Quote of the Day


"The media has been making a big deal—that we’re not going to score enough runs.
Today we scored nine and that says something facing a guy like Sabathia."
—New Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre on last night's win over the Evil Empire

It's certainly early, but with all the predictions of a plethora of 3-2 games, it was nice to see the Olde Towne Team put up a nine spot on opening day.

UPDATE — This little speech from last night is the talk of New England today:

Sunday, April 04, 2010

I wanna Easter egg! I wanna Easter egg!


Happy Easter to those who celebrate a dead man coming back to life. Here's how Warner Brothers saw the whole thing a few decades ago.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Making a Cantalamessa Things


political cartoonist Bob Engelhart sure did receive a lot of criticism for the cartoon on the right (published Wednesday), but the complaints of anti-Catholicism were nothing compared to the one argued by the Pope's personal preacher yesterday.

So it goes.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


This appears to be pretty much a done deal.
The NCAA appears to be on the verge of expanding the men's basketball tournament to 96 teams.

Insisting that nothing has been decided, NCAA vice president Greg Shaheen nonetheless outlined a detailed plan Thursday that included the logistics and timing of a 96-team tournament, how much time off the players would have and even revenue distribution.
If nothing else, it'll make running the office pool nearly impossible. And, of course, it'll mean that "any school that has 15 guys standing in March can get in."

Golly. Whoda thunk the NCAA would do something so idiotic?

UPDATE — Steve Kornacki has more.

Mythic Stupidity?


One of the movies that DarLucky and I enjoyed together when he was very young was Ray Harryhausen's 1981 opus, Clash of the Titans. It had a number of appealing elements to it: decent (for the time) special effects, a good story, and a simple but adequate exploration of the heroic quest. (Lest we forget, it was also how Harry Hamlin and Ursula Andress became an item.)

The 2010 version of the movie is about to come out, and, alas, at least one reviewer doesn't think much of it.

Thursday, April 01, 2010



I have to admit that I'm absolutely lost regarding the format of Fox's new Palin show. Apparently, she "interviews" people but doesn't meet them(?). Hoo boy: Another instance where one just has to shake his head in disbelief at the state of American "journalism."

There's a kind of explanation here, but the most interesting part of the episode (thus far) is that both LL Cool J and Toby Keith (among the two more disparate personalities one can imagine) have both indicated that they're not real happy with the way the show will be using them.

It goes without saying that if a network can rile both LL Cool J and Toby Keith simultaneously, it must've really screwed up.

Quite a bit of weather we've been having


As I'm getting over the experience of emptying my basement for the second time in three weeks, Atrios points out this blog, wherein it's stated that the deluges we've been having can be ascribed to the warming of the planet.

Unlike others, I have no doubt that worldwide temperatures are rising, but I sincerely hope that the condition will not necessarily lead to more instances of eight inches of rain in North Madison basements.