Saturday, August 29, 2009

California's Basement

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is hoping that the "Great California Garage Sale" will turn government clutter like surplus prison uniforms and office furniture into cash to bulk up the state's depleted finances.

California, a state with vast amounts of natural resources and economic potential, is having a yard sale to plug the budget gap. Sounds good to me, but it should also serve as a cautionary tale. Not much good can come out of government over-regulating its citizenry and implementing suffocating taxes to pay for its expansion. Those practices tend to be economic buzzkills.

Widows' Peak

A memorable film from the 1990's starring Mia Farrow, Joan Plowright and the late Natasha Richardson:

Rainy Day Quote

A classic from ex-Red Sox Carl Everett:

"God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve," Everett said about the existence of dinosaurs. "The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can't say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Someone actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Saudi Child Bride Turned Back Over to 80-Year-Old Husband

A Saudi Arabian father forced his 10-year-old daughter to return to her 80-year-old husband Sunday, after she was found hiding at the home of her aunt for 10 days, Arab News reported.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Legislate First, Think Later

Government continually passes legislation and leaves it for the rest of us to sort out. We saw this with the New York State bottle bill.

Remember this:

ALBANY — The more they learn about New York's new expanded bottle law, say those who produce and distribute beverages here, the more they worry about how they will comply.

Bottlers and brewers were caught off-guard by an anti-fraud provision in the so-called Bigger, Better Bottle Bill, which was promoted mainly for including water bottles in deposit and return programs.

The law, signed last week by Gov. David Paterson, mandates unique electronic scanner bar codes for containers sold and returned in New York.

"It hit us at the last minute," said Steve DiLoreto, plant manager for Ball Metal Container Corp., which makes more than 3 billion 12-ounce aluminum beer and soft drink cans each year at W.J. Grande Industrial Park in Saratoga Springs.

Ball's locally produced cans feature more than 400 different labels for beers, sodas and juices, and DiLoreto estimated the plant has "several hundred million" cans now printed and ready to go.

Ball cans are produced for beverages made by companies including Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Welch's and Matt Brewing Co. About 75 percent of those products will be distributed inside New York, DiLoreto said.

"We build inventory all year to supply our customers through the summer," he said. "We're at our high mark right now in terms of inventory. Obviously, we couldn't afford to scrap all those good cans."

Most new portions of the bottle law take effect June 1, but DiLoreto doesn't know how his company can meet that deadline.

"It would add duplicative inventories of cans for anything sold outside of New York state," he said. "We'd have to redevelop graphics for every label we run. There is a digital graphics process for the printing plates, and our customers have to approve any graphics changes to their labels."

DiLoreto estimated the cost of producing the new graphics alone at $600,000 to $700,000. There would be additional costs to set up the duplicate inventories, warehouse the duplicate cans, and modify production schedules.

"Those costs are just hard to quantify on the short notice we've had, but they're extensive," he said.

Garry Brown, president of Brown's Brewing Co. in Troy, said he, too, has questions about how the new bottle law will affect his business.

Brown's has six labels in action for its bottled beers right now. And while the company doesn't distribute outside of New York, it's unclear whether it will need to create new New York-specific bar codes to comply with the law, Brown said.

If so, "that's a problem because there's going to be a retooling cost," he said. "We just sent in two more labels (for printing). You buy these things by the thousands at a clip."

It is unclear whether amendments to address the concerns of brewers, bottlers and distributors are likely.

"The New York bar code is designed to prevent out-of-state containers being brought to New York," Paterson spokeswoman Erin Duggan said.

"The governor's staff have been meeting with distributors, beer companies, retailers and other parties," she said. "They are closely examining the practical implications of this provision of the new law."

Shouldn't the practical implications been worked out before the legislation was passed? But, that's not how government works. Government does not have to be accountable for the logistics once the legislation is passed. It only collects the fees, taxes and fines associated with the new law. The businesses and, in some cases, local authorities are tasked with figuring out the practical implications of the law.

Government, especially in New York State, is reactive. The Bigger Better Bottle bill is nothing more than a feel good piece of legislation that deals with less than 10% of the waste stream. Instead of being pro-active and putting together a comprehensive recycling scheme, we have this piecemeal legislation that ends up penalizing one business. Heaven forbid we look to find ways to improve across the board recycling aimed at convenience.

Now we have this new legislation in Maine aimed at the wine tasting industry.

Families normally wouldn't take a child to a wine tasting.

But in the Belgrade Lakes, tourists stop in the Bacchus House of Wine to sample and buy with their tots in tow.

Beth Hudson, who owns the shop, said she always accepted that children could be part of the experience.

But that will soon change.

A new law that goes into effect Sept. 12 will prohibit children from observing wine tastings.

Hudson said she isn't sure how to comply with that. Her Main Street wine shop has ceiling-to-floor windows and glass doors. The windows have blinds that she could close, but an inspector from the Maine Bureau of Liquor Enforcement & Licensing told her that is not acceptable.

"I said I could close the blinds, and he said no," Hudson said. "I would have to partition off or put up some draperies. Look at my store. How am I supposed to do that? We usually have (wine tastings) in front of the fireplace and we serve cheese and crackers. In order to do that, people would have to be cramped in a smaller space. It would appear like the adults were doing something shameful.

"If they don't want children seeing people drinking why do they allow them in restaurants?"

An amendment to L.D. 498 by Rep. David Webster, D-Freeport, states, "Taste-testing activities must be conducted in a manner that precludes the possibility of observation by children."

In the final days of the last legislation session, Webster said, a bill came forward that would allow not only wine tastings, but beer and hard liquor tastings in any off-premises retail including grocery stores.

No changes were made to the laws allowing children in liquor stores or restaurants that serve alcohol.

Webster said it was never his intention to hurt small wine shops; his amendment was supposed to target large grocery stores where families shop with children.

Unfortunately, the only way to modify the law is in legislative session and the next one doesn't start until January, he said. So the law will go into effect Sept. 12.

"We're scheduled to go back in January, but unless there's a special session there's no way of changing this," he said. "I'm doing everything I can to reduce the adverse impact. No one is disputing that we've got to fix this."

He [Lt. David Bowler, of the Department of Maine Public Safety Liquor Licensing and Inspections Unit] said wording in the new law also makes it difficult for wine, beer and spirits retailers to acquire permits to conduct tastings.

"The way they word it is, if someone wanted to do the spirits tasting, they have to have 200 codes ... say a fifth of Jim Bean is one code, a pint would be one code and little airport-size bottle another code," he said. "The wine tasting is 125 labels and beer is 100 different brands. They should have worded it either codes or labels. And we've discussed brands. What is a brand? Is a brand Budweiser or everything that falls under it? Is Bud Lite a brand? At some point we're going to have to get a ruling from the attorney general's office to tell us what is considered a brand."

There goes the government again: legislating first and thinking later.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Debacle Continues...

Governor Paterson partying with Kathy Hilton in the Hamptons.

Does anyone else think that we are all part of an episode of Punk'd?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Governor Paterson Takes It To a New Level

From the New York Post:

The state's first black governor yesterday blamed his political woes -- and those of President Obama -- on a white-dominated media that he accused of taking part in an "orchestrated" attack campaign.

"We're not in the post-racial period," [David] Paterson said in a freewheeling interview on the liberal talk-radio station WWRL. "My feeling is it's being orchestrated, it's a game, and people who pay attention know that."

Of course, it has nothing to do with his incompetence, uninspired leadership, or failure to stand up for New York State taxpayers in the face of huge tax and fee increases. I don't care if Governor Paterson is an orange lilliputian, he is, and has been a terrible governor. For him to play the race card is an insult to the hard working New York taxpayers who pay for his crappy leadership.

Paterson continued, "The next victim on the list -- and you see it coming -- is President Barack Obama, who did nothing more than try to reform a health-care system . . . only because he's trying to make change..."

I disagree with government run health care. I believe that greater competition, tort reform and tax incentives for individuals are better reform measures than handing over a substantial portion of our economy to an inefficient bloated entity. Does this make me a racist?

Amazing... How low will you go Governor Paterson?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kennedy asks for change in succession law

I wonder if Senator Kennedy would make the same request if Mitt Romney was still in the Massachusetts State House?

Originally Massachusetts law called for the Governor to fill Senate vacancies. In a well publicized law change, the State House Democrats, worried that Governor Romney would pick a conservative replacement if John Kerry won the election, enacted the current legislation.

It's Supposed to be Public Service, Right?

August 18, 2009
Some N.Y. Lawmakers Take Pensions on Top of Pay
ALBANY — When Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg retired last year, there were no sendoffs, no cakes and no serenades.

In fact, no one even knew he had left the Capitol, because he never did. Mr. Weisenberg, 75, a Long Island Democrat, “retired” last year but continued to work as a lawmaker and remained on the payroll. As a result, he earns $101,500 in salary and collects a pension of about $72,000, according to the comptroller’s office.

Similarly, Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, a 72-year-old Brooklyn Democrat, retired last year after 31 years, but continued to serve her district. She earns $104,500 and draws an annual pension of more than $71,000. And Assemblyman John J. McEneny, a 65-year-old Albany-area Democrat who retired last year but kept his seat in the Assembly chamber, now earns $94,500 and a pension of about $73,000.

All of them are beneficiaries of “double dipping,” a practice in which public servants simultaneously collect government salaries and pensions, sometimes for the same job.

Most people who have a traditional pension put in years or decades of work at a job, then retire, leave the job and begin collecting monthly pension payments. Some companies do allow double dipping, though the practice has most likely declined during the recession and federal rules impose more restrictions on corporate pension funds.

In Albany, veteran lawmakers can “retire” at 65 from their jobs and start collecting pensions, but without actually leaving their jobs, giving up their salaries or even telling their constituents. Four legislators took advantage of the rule last year.

The rest

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Day, Another Indictment

A Bronx Assemblyman believed to have tripped himself up in an election fraud case is expected to be indicted on perjury charges, the Daily News has learned.

The charges against Assemblyman Nelson Castro are expected sometime this or next week, sources told The News.

Castro was accused in last September's primary of electoral shenanigans after nine voters were found to be registered to his one-bedroom flat in the west Bronx.

Ho Hum...

Quote of the Day

“The only reason for a government service is precisely to provide financial support for an operation that is otherwise unsustainable, or else there would be no point in the government’s involvement at all.”

- Llewellyn Rockwell Jr., Chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute

Something Fishy This Way Comes

From the Barney Frank town hall meeting:

Dr. Sheila Leavitt, a physician from Newton, said she hoped for changes that would support primary care physicians who aren't paid as much as specialists.

I tried googling Dr. Leavitt. There is no record of her practice or hospital affiliation. Maybe she is a doctor, or maybe she's another Roxana Mayer?

Remember that old car that was seen in the Boston area a few years back? The one decorated with anti-Bush rhetoric? That car was driven by Newton resident Sheila Leavitt. Hmmm...

Better Late Than Never?

Talk about being late to the party...

"Pedro Espada was in it for himself," he [Libous] said.

Welcome aboard Senator Libous. Those of us who possess a modicum of acumen figured out Senator Espada's motivations around about the second week of June.

Is it any wonder that New York State is so dysfunctional?

A Blast from the Recent Past

Boscombe Surf Reef

Surfing in England:

The reef does not create waves, but acts as a ramp which changes the way the waves break. The reef will improve the quality of the surf and produce a long right-hand ride of around 75 metres for surfers, and a shorter left-hand ride of around 35 metres most favourable for body boarders. As a result, the number of good surfing days will increase.

The left-hand break of the reef is designed to roll down the reef and 'clean up' the short period chop that the dominant cross-shore wind creates. This will make the wave-face on the right-hander cleaner for surfing.

The reef construction started July 2008. Already locals are seeing larger dolphin populations in the area. Surfers will have to paddle 250 meters out to reach the Grade 5 waves.

Privatization to Boost Output, Go Figure...

The last two paragraphs in the New York Daily News article about Cuba running out of toilet paper is telling.

[Raul] Castro, who replaced his ailing older brother Fidel Castro as president last year, also has complained that Cuba's productivity is too low.

He has taken various steps to boost output, including putting more state-owned land in private hands and pushing for salaries to be based on productivity.

The Disease Called Pedro Espada Lingers

Pedro Espada, New York's ethically challenged Senate Majority Leader, is expanding his staff on the back of New York State taxpayers.

In total, the Senate's Democratic leadership has authorized more than $500,000 in pay raises and new staff for Espada since he returned to the Democratic conference at the end of the chamber's June stalemate, according to payroll records from the state comptroller's office.

Among the new hires is Jerry Love Jr., the son of Sandra Love, a Soundview officer who in 2004 pleaded guilty to steering state funds intended for family care and AIDS treatment to Espada's political campaign. Three other Soundview officials also pleaded guilty in that case.

How far will Espada go before his limp wristed colleagues push back? There are rumblings from some of the underlings and rank and file.

"Leadership is supposed to lead the way, not look the other way, when poor decisions are being made," said one Senate Democratic staffer.

"This makes me more embarrassed and makes the Senate look even worse than it has already -- and that's hard to imagine," said Sen. Neil Breslin (D-Albany).

Of course, don't expect Breslin to do anything other than fall in line when Espada starts issuing vote orders. After all, he's just one of the many in the Conference who speak loudly but carry a small stick. What an embarrassment for a once great state.

No matter, all these asshats will be voted back in next election cycle. Remember, we are the same electorate who voted in landslide fashion for a man who was on the cusp of being indicted for a felony.

More on Espada

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's in a Name?

City Journal's Daniel J. Flynn by way of John Stossel...

If Congress passes President Obama’s trillion-dollar overhaul of the nation’s health-care industry, political entrepreneurs are sure to seek a cut of the enormous prize, and few have positioned themselves more skillfully than Ted Kennedy, Jr. “For years, Kennedy, Jr. has been boldly exploiting both his name and his intimate relationship with the most influential member of the U.S. Senate when it comes to health care and organized labor: his father, Senator Ted Kennedy,” Dick Morris and Eileen McGann write in their new book, Catastrophe. “And his father has been all too willing to help out in making the family connection into a lucrative business for his son.” Over the course of this decade, medical giants with business interests before the senator have showered money upon his son’s lobbying businesses: Bristol-Myers Squibb has paid $380,000; the Advanced Medical Technology Association, $220,000; Ascension Health, $280,000. Ask not what you can do for your name; ask what your name can do for you.

Living in Massachusetts, this is seen first hand. One year the local used bookstore owner was Joe Kennedy's only opponent for his Congressional seat. I only found out because I overheard him talking to another customer about it in his store.

A great quote from Joe Sr. from when Ted was running for Senate as a 30 year old slacker:

“I spent a lot of money for that Senate seat,” patriarch Joe Kennedy said prior to Ted’s initial run. “It belongs in the family.”

Monday, August 17, 2009

The New American Dream

Sponge off the taxpayers, flaunt your ill gotten gains and ignore any semblance of legality...

Don't worry Senator Espada, the knuckleheads in the Bronx will keep returning you to office.

Remember what Alexis de Tocqueville said: we get the government we deserve. Can you imagine what someone like Alexander Hamilton would think of this asshat Espada?

The one-time Democratic turncoat controls the money flow as CEO of Comprehensive Community Development Corp., which he founded in 1978 and which is the umbrella organization for Soundview HealthCare Network.

The corporation's five clinics serve more than 40,000 people each year, but critics say Espada has put to personal and political use some of the $15 million the organization pulls in annually.

"For Pedro Espada, politics is a route to wealth and power," said a Bronx political insider.

Even as the geyser of cash rains on his family and on his political campaigns, Comprehensive Community Development owes some $347,000 in federal and state income tax withheld from employees, as well as unpaid unemployment taxes.

Seriously, what separates someone like Espada from a run of the mill grifter doing 3 to 6 in the state penitentiary?

Poll: Cuomo leads Paterson in possible '10 race

It's hard to believe that Governor Half-Wit has any supporters. Seriously, it's almost like the whole debacle has been scripted.

A new poll of New York Democrats shows Attorney General Andrew Cuomo attracting four voters to every one for incumbent Gov. David Paterson in a potential matchup next year.

The poll shows 61 percent of voters polled favored Cuomo and 15 percent picked Paterson. In June, Cuomo had a lead of 57 percent to 20 percent.

Who are these 15% percent favoring Paterson? Maybe all the goofballs he's put on the state payroll since his swearing in?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Move Along...Nothing To See

A book about Jyllands-Posten's Muhammad cartoons that doesn't show the cartoons.

The New York Times broke the story.

Yes, the same New York Times that refused to print the cartoons back in 2006, but of course, saw no problem publishing Chris Ofili's seminal work, The Holy Virgin Mary, which featured the Virgin Mary decorated with porno and elephant dung.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

They May Not Know What's Good For Them...

Typically elitist attitude, and she has no idea why it is offensive:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bourne Braves, Cape Cod League Champions

Bourne Braves defeated the Cotuit Kettleers 5-1 yesterday winning the Arnold Mycock Trophy.

The Cape Cod Baseball League provides a getaway for purist baseball fans wishing to avoid discussions about supplements, astericks and PEDS. It showcases the best college baseball players and introduces them to the nuances of hitting a baseball with a wood bat. The games are well attended by locals, vacationers and MLB scouts.

The roster of MLB players, past and present, that have played in the Cape Cod League include:

Ben Sheets, Matt Murton, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Jacoby Ellsbury, Nomar Garciaparra, Brandon Inge, Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Carlton Fisk, Kevin Millar, John Tudor, JT Snow, Ron Darling and Brian Roberts

The real "field of dreams" shouldn't have been about a cornfield in Iowa filled with baseball's past. The real "if you build it, they will come" scenario should have been about the annual two-month lovefest with baseball's future known as the Cape Cod Baseball League.

From Chatham to Wareham on this famous stretch of land about an hour south of Boston, nothing is a better central-casting depiction of what baseball should look like and sound like than the 10-team college summer league that attracts the best players and caters to a fan base that ranges from small children to the elderly.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hillary in Neverland?

The always insightful Charles Krauthammer:

She [Hillary Clinton] lost it. It was not a real good moment. In part, I'm sure it was because she thought she was being treated as an appendage of her husband.

But I think part of it is also the venue. Here you have Richard Holbrooke running Afghanistan and Pakistan — the heart of our troubles in Asia. You have George Mitchell in the Middle East. You have envoys here and there, and she is the secretary of state, and she's sitting in the Congo, in the Congo?

You've got Petraeus running Afghanistan. You've got Odierno running Iraq. She is totally marginalized, sitting in Kinshasa. I'm sure it is a great city — in fact, it's not — but the Congo? Africa is very low on the scale of important interests of the United States.

She was supposed to be the president of the United States at this point. She was going to be queen of the world. Instead, Obama bestrides the world. He gives speeches in the great capitals, in Cairo — and she is in the Congo! You'd be upset, also.

Eunice Shriver, R.I.P.

For my money, Eunice Shriver's legacy will outlast the aura of her famous family.

"She believed that people with intellectual disabilities could — individually and collectively — achieve more than anyone thought possible," the Shrivers' son, Timothy Shriver, chairman and CEO of Special Olympics, said in a prepared statement yesterday. "This much she knew with unbridled faith and certainty. And this faith in turn gave her hope that their future might be radically different."

I understand that she was born with both a fortune and platform to accomplish great things, but to champion a population that was ignored and hidden away takes great determination. It also should be noted that Eunice acted with the understanding that her work would illuminate the plight of her older sister Rosemary and bring attention to her father Joe's culpability in Rosemary's situation.

Brave lady.. .

From the Cape Cod Times:

Trey Marbella, 36, Hyannis
Marbella loves to watch baseball, but when he suits up for Special Olympics games and practices, it's basketball all the way.

"It's just the joy of playing basketball. I don't know why," said Marbella, who moved south after graduating from the Riverview School in Sandwich. He came back to the Cape last year and lives in supportive housing. He has a job selling Cape Cod Times newspapers.

He played in a Special Olympics basketball tournament at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester in February. He practices once a week at the Boys and Girls Club in Mashpee.

"In some ways, it's sort of like the regular Olympics," Marbella said. There are opening ceremonies and speeches. The athletes have a camaraderie that extends beyond team lines, he said.

"They have more passion than most people you see on TV," Marbella said. "Being in Special Olympics has taught me things about myself I wouldn't have known before. How to enjoy life."

Gail Carroll, 64, Hyannis
When Carroll marches in Special Olympics opening ceremonies, she carries a sign for CapeAbilities, the nonprofit Hyannis organization where she works and socializes.

The rest of the time she's carting around a red-and-black bowling ball that has helped her get scores in the 100s during Special Olympics bowling contests.

"Can you believe it's an eight-pounder?" asked Carroll, who has an apartment with a roommate in Hyannis. "I've been bowling since I was little. It is exciting. I like it."

She has a special shelf for the many medals she's won over the years. She bowls every Thursday with people from CapeAbilities to keep up her skills.

Katie Stubstad, 24, Sagamore
A Special Olympian since she was about 11 years old, Stubstad particularly enjoys the swim meets.

She competes in backstroke, free style and the relay. "Swimming is easy for me," says Stubstad.

The backstroke is her favorite, especially since her coach told her she could get good propulsion by reaching her arms up to the ceiling. She won some gold medals in a June competition in the state games in Boston, Stubstad said.

"Boston is fun to run around," said Stubstad, who lives at home with Kathy and Don Stubstad and her brother Tim. She works at the CapeAbilities Farm in Dennis and in the Hyannis office assembling welcome buckets for Cape visitors and at the Sandwich Post Office.

Amy Hastings, 30, Harwich
Hastings lives at home with her parents, Mary and Brian Hastings, and works part time at the Stop & Shop in Dennis and volunteers at Cape Cod Hospital.

Hastings has participated in Special Olympics since she was 10 or 11, said her mother, Mary Hastings. She's been to games in North Carolina, Iowa and Ireland, and has competed in soccer, gymnastics, tennis, skiing and cycling.

"I like a lot of people. I have tons of friends," Hastings said. "In Boston, for the state games, our team the Life Survivors team, we all went out for ice cream almost every night except for Sunday."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nicaragua, the new Costa Rica?

I was in Costa Rica about 10 years ago. It was very primitive and had none of the tourist feel to it. From what I hear, things have changed: all inclusive resorts and vacation packages are now commonplace.

Instead, check out Nicaragua:

Geologically, Nicaragua has similar terrain to its eco-tourism hotshot neighbor Costa Rica. It has stunning volcanos, gorgeous beaches and a rich jungle and cloud forest life. What it lacks is the early start that Costa Rica got in perserving these assets. But it also still lacks the crowds and being a traveller there, feels authentic in a way some other central american destinations do not.

Climb It While You Can

I almost fell off Ayers Rocks a few years ago. The climb certainly wasn't arduous, but it was slippery in places. And, of course, outside of the chain that stretches up the steepest part, there are no guardrails or paths. You are pretty much on your own. The views from the top are amazing: The Olgas and the expanse of the Red Center.

Keeping It In The Family

Just when New York State taxpayers thought that it couldn't get worse....

The NYS Democrats put Pedro Espada Jr.'s son Pedro G. Espada on their (read=taxpayers) payroll by CREATING a $120,000/year position. The elder Espada is the ethically challenged downstate senator from the Bronx. Obviously, this is part of the payoff that enticed the elder Espada to return to the Senate Democratic conference.

"The conference wants to use Pedro's vast experience in the government and private sector to help improve communications and cooperation between the State Senate and various city, state, and federal agencies," he said. So what's that experience? Aside from his stint in elected office, Espada helped start the "Neighborhood Empowerment Center" in the Bronx, organizing "job training programs," says Shafran. He vehemently denies that the hiring was connected to the July negotiations between Democrats and Espada's legally embattled father, whose defection to the Republican side brought Albany to a monthlong standstill.

I love the example of Pedro G.'s private sector experience. A quick web search for "Neighborhood Empowerment Center" finds an article that suggests the younger Espada used the non-profit as a campaign office for his City Council run. Shocker...

...the Espadas have blurred the already thin line between running a service organization and a permanent campaign office. NEC [Neighborhood Empowerment Center], run by Pedro U., is supposed to be a neighborhood nonprofit, but the place looks every bit like a campaign office, with stacks of campaign literature everywhere and a box of Espada-for-Council hair combs. The sign above the door has the organization's name on it, but the words "Pedro G. Espada, Executive Director" are at least twice as big. The front door is still emblazoned with seal of the New York State Senate, a relic from the days when his father served in Albany and compiled one of the worst attendance records of any legislator.

And if Espada employees' money flows freely into the campaign, it doesn't seem to find its way so readily to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

City Limits has learned that last October the state assessed a lien on the Soundview Health Center [Pedro Espada Jr.'s non-profit], citing $413,000 in back payroll taxes that were supposed to have been deducted from employees' checks each week. Since then, Pedro, Jr. has paid back about $43,000 of the debt.

The Neighborhood Empowerment Center's listed number appears to be disconnected.

Surprise, surprise...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Man's Best Friend

Theodore Dalrymple, the pen name of a retired prison doctor and psychiatrist contrasts the human and veterinary health services of Great Britain and finds that it is much better to be a dog.

As a British dog, you get to choose (through an intermediary, I admit) your veterinarian. If you don’t like him, you can pick up your leash and go elsewhere, that very day if necessary. Any vet will see you straight away, there is no delay in such investigations as you may need, and treatment is immediate. There are no waiting lists for dogs, no operations postponed because something more important has come up, no appalling stories of dogs being made to wait for years because other dogs—or hamsters—come first.

He concludes:

And what I want, at least for that part of my time that I spend in England, is to be a dog. I also want, wherever I am, the Americans to go on paying for the great majority of the world’s progress in medical research and technological innovation by the preposterous expense of their system: for it is a truth universally acknowledged that American clinical research has long reigned supreme, so overall, the American health-care system must have been doing something right. The rest of the world soon adopts the progress, without the pain of having had to pay for it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Budd Schulberg

Budd Schulberg died a couple of days ago. Schulberg was a legend. I still believe that the best book written about Hollywood is Schulberg's "What Makes Sammy Run?”, a fictionalized look at the movie business.

Schulberg's father ran Paramount Pictures in the 1930's, his mother was Sam Jaffe's sister. He was the prototype Hollywood insider. Schulberg wrote the screenplay to "On the Waterfront" and "A Face in the Crowd." He eventually became Sports Illustrated's boxing correspondent.

Schulberg joined the Communist Party, but became disillusioned when party officials pressured him to incorporate party dogma into his work. He eventually testified in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and remained unapologetic about it throughout his life.

Tax Dollars for Vacation Trips

10 members for Congress spent time on the Great Barrier Reef under the guise of studying climate change. Who are they fooling? 6 of them brought their spouses, who do not have to pay for travel and accommodations, only food.

Asked about his wife's participation, Mr. [Frank] Lucas cited a busy congressional schedule that often keeps families separated, even on weekends. If spouses couldn't go along on trips abroad, "then you couldn't travel -- simple as that," he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. [Charlie] Melancon said the representative's wife of 37 years, Peachy Melancon, added "insight and perspective" that "only amplified the educational benefit he gained as a lawmaker."

Aren't these people supposed to be working for us? Dick Morris's book "Outrage" has a chapter devoted to Congressmen who continually take advantage of taxpayers for the benefit of themselves and their families, with spouses, sons and daughters getting favored treatment as lobbyists and privileged insiders. Be certain to read it on an empty stomach.

According to the WSJ, Congressional travel has increased tenfold since the mid-1990's. When are we as taxpayers planning to say that enough is enough? More and more we see our federal representatives gaining more and more power over our lives whilst enriching themselves at our expense.

The latest grab for power is health care reform. Make no mistake. That is what it is, a grab for power. Keep in mind, that while our federal representatives have no problem directing us to a system that will take away our health care choices, they will not be beholden to it themselves.

And, here's more spending:

Lawmakers' move to upgrade the fleet of government jets -- used for travel by lawmakers and other senior government officials -- is just one of more than 1,000 spending projects lawmakers added to the Pentagon's budget for next year that weren't requested by President Barack Obama.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Coast Guard

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman cites Coast Guard's 219th birthday

Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton convinced Congress to authorize construction of 10 topsail schooners Aug. 4, 1790, for the U.S. Revenue-Marine to combat widespread smuggling. Our nation proudly celebrates that day 219 years ago when the U.S. Coast Guard was born.

Since then, thousands of men and women have stood watch in our oldest continuous seagoing service on land, sea and in the air: ever vigilant, keeping our homeland safe, and protecting our maritime resources. Last year alone, our nation's maritime guardians saved more than four thousand lives with professionalism and courage.

Their proud service today extends far beyond our own shores. Nearly 400 Coast Guardsmen are now serving on point in locations across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Coast Guard patrol missions take place wherever America needs: from the waters off Kodiak Island to the Arabian Gulf, across the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Malacca.

Whether conducting drug interdiction, search and rescue operations, confronting our nation's adversaries or training partner nations in maritime security, no one is more skilled or better equipped than our Coast Guard.

The Joint Chiefs and I salute you, all of the hard working men, women and supportive families of our United States Coast Guard. America would not be safe without you.

Happy Birthday and Semper Paratus!

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Thanks for your post on the Coast Guard. It is worth noting that while other federal, state and local agencies utterly screwed up the response to Hurricane Katrina, the Coast Guard (and to a lesser extent both the state and federal Fish and Wildlife Services) rescued tens of thousands of people — at least 33,500 by this count, which I've seen confirmed elsewhere.

The Guardsmen were true heroes, yet never really got the credit due them. I'm glad you gave them some notice.