Archive for July, 2009

Badges of Dishonor

July 30, 2009

The Chiefs of Police of Martins Ferry and Bridgeport, Ohio find themselves in legal hot water:

http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/entertainment/2009/07/30/D99OVFRO2_us_people_parker_broderick/

They broke into the woman’s home looking for info they could sell to the tabloids.  Their cover story as reported in local media is that they were on routine patrol and noticed a door ajar at the woman’s home and went in to investigate.  That is, the Chiefs of Police of two different jurisdictions were patrolling together.  Yeah, that seems believable.  lol

Government Stalls Cash For Clunkers

July 30, 2009

If you want to partake in this program, you have until midnight on July 31st:

http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/2009/07/30/D99P2TM85_us_cash_for_clunkers/

I guess no one realized how popular this would be.  And I also guess no one thought to ponder what would happen if a backlog of deals get posted to the government website after the $1B was spent.  Especially given that the government website in question is constantly bogged down and inoperable.  It seems to be a very popular program either way; maybe Congress should authorize more money for the program to get it re-jump-started.

Pirates And Indians Make Trades

July 29, 2009

As the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball approaches both area ballclubs engaged in the further selling off of key pieces.  The biggest trade (at least so far) today in baseball was the Indians sending ace pitcher Cliff Lee and utility outfielder Ben Francisco to Philadelphia for four highly rated prospects.  In the grand scheme of things this trade was also significant for signalling that the Phillies will NOT be trading for Toronto uber ace Roy Halliday as had been widely rumored the past couple weeks.  Philadelphia did not like the Blue Jays steep asking price and get a very good pitcher just one step down from Halliday for a less draconian asking price.  As for the Indians, they get 4 prospects, all rated in the top 10 in the Phillies organization by Baseball America, a widely respected source on such things.  Not sure Francisco’s role in the trade, unless Philly basically told the Indians that they needed a 2nd major leaguer if they were to part with 4 prospects.  Obviously, he is not getting a ton of playing time at the detriment of a current member of their All Star outfield.  As for Halliday, the Blue Jays may very well still move him, but it obviously won’t be to Philly.  My hunch is the Dodgers or Red Sox, but we shall see.

The Pirates made two separate trades today, sending the heart and soul of the team in Jack Wilson and a malcontent in Ian Snell to Seattle for Ronny Cedeno and several prospects.  While I hate to see Wilson go, Neil Huntington got the Mariners to overpay, like some of the other trades he has made this season.  Obviously Seattle is banking that a change of scenery (like Pittsburgh to Indianapolis was) is all Snell needed to turn back into a highly useful major league starting pitcher.  But I don’t know if Snell will be able to immediately help Seattle, Wilson is a good shortstop for sure but I don’t think a paradigm shifter, and Seattle wasn’t likely going to be able to overtake Anaheim either way.  In other words, I think they bought near the trade deadline with 2010 in mind.  The Pirates will use Cedeno so they can have players in the middle infield while hoping his bat gets stronger and there seems to be reason to be bullish on a couple of the prospects.

In the other trade announced shortly after their series against the Giants ended this afternoon Freddie Sanchez was asked to migrate from the visitor’s clubhouse to the home house and play for the Giants in exchange for one minor league pitcher rated the 10th best right handed pitcher in baseball again by Baseball America.  This trade feels more like a dumping than the other moves Huntington has made this year; its one All Star for one AA pitcher.  But its a pitcher with relatively strong prospects, so this trade could still work for the Pirates.  The value in the move to the Giants is obvious.

Voinovich Says GOP Too Southern

July 29, 2009

Impending retirement can loosen the lips:

http://www.salon.com/politics/war_room/2009/07/28/voinovich/index.html

I don’t really disagree with him, though I would not say its the southern drawl (if that is what he meant by the “errrr” thing) that turns people off.  It would be some of the social/religiously conservative to the extreme views that disquiets parts of “middle” America.  But mostly I would say that both parties go through phases of waxing and waning in public favor and the GOP will bounce back.

Favre Tells Vikings to Deal Him Out

July 28, 2009

The latest twist in this years and years old saga; aging quarterback Brett Favre phoned Minnesota Viking’s coach Brad Childress today to inform him that he has chosen to remain retired.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow, but that is today’s update.

Seriously, that is probably it, as this announcement probably means Favre won’t play at all in 2009, and its hard to picture someone at his age playing after skipping a whole season.  Of course, if someone has their top 1 or 2 qbs get hurt in camp or by early in the season and some reporter manages to track Favre down and get him to talk (like that’s ever hard) and ask him if he would perhaps be interested . . .  All I’m saying is that while our nation’s 2nd oldest soap opera, barely shorter than Guiding Light, appears to’ve hit the closing credits, I wouldn’t rule anything out.

Ohio’s Budget And You

July 26, 2009

This information shamelessly pulled from an AP article appearing on the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune website:

Here’s what you can expect if you:

Own a business: There are multiple tax credits at your disposal, including film tax credits totaling $10 million in the first year of the budget and $20 million in the second, technology investment credits totaling $45 million and job creation and retention credits that will be capped at $13 million.

Are a college student: You may see your tuition go up for the first time in three years, as state higher education funds were cut by nearly $460 million. The state cut its direct aid to public colleges and universities by $170 million, erasing its ability to maintain a tuition freeze for a third year.

Are a college student who stays in Ohio: You may have an opportunity in which the state gives you money toward the down payment on your first home.

Are a public school student: Unless you are in a handful of Ohio’s 600-plus school districts, your district will get an increase in funding — thanks to an infusion of federal dollars. If you are a kindergartner, you will have an opportunity to go to all-day kindergarten in every district. But districts that charge will be able to do so for two more years. If you are a high school student, you will be taking the ACT even if you aren’t planning to apply to college.

Pay property taxes: The share of school funding coming from property taxes will decrease starting in 2010 and then twice again over the next six years.

Get food from a food pantry: Food banks were one of the few programs with a significant increase, but there is no guarantee there will be enough food to go around. The budget gives a total of $24 million to food banks over two years — a $7 million increase from previous years. But food banks are experiencing surging demand because of the recession.

Have no health insurance: You may be in luck, depending on how old you are and how much you can afford to pay for insurance on a monthly basis. Policies in the budget to expand health insurance are expected to cover an estimated 100,000 people who don’t have insurance.

If you have a preexisting condition and are looking for insurance during the open enrollment period, you can probably get care if you can afford to pay about $400 a month. A policy that caps rates during open enrollment will cut the average amount paid by those with preexisting conditions in half. This policy will be fully effective by 2012.

If you are under the age of 29 and your parents have employer health insurance, that policy will be required to cover you as well. Currently, it only has to do so until age 24. This will take effect with policies that renew beginning July 1, 2010.

If you work for a company that doesn’t provide health insurance, you will be able to use a pretax account to buy insurance, which could lower your bill by 40 percent. This will start with larger companies and be fully implemented by 2012.

Visit your local public library: You avoided a 50 percent cut in funding from the roughly $450 million that libraries currently get. But libraries were still cut by $84 million, so many residents may see reduced hours and staffing at their local branches.

Receive mental health services: The state agency that provides funding for local mental health agencies received a $190 million hit compared to the last-two year budget. Services not covered by Medicaid will be the most affected, because there is no matching money from the federal government. Those services include housing and peer services, in which patients get counseling in areas such as looking for a job.

Receive home-based care for the elderly: A $68 million, or 20 percent, reduction in funding in the budget for the Department of Aging will mean that not everyone requesting home-based care will receive it. The three programs that provide home-based care served an average of 904 people a month in the fiscal year that ended in June. The next budget will only be able to afford having an estimated 680 people enrolled.

At Least One Vote That Roethlisberger Did It

July 25, 2009

http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/07/24/roethlisberger_rape_culture/index.html?source=newsletter

Of course, maybe she is a golddigger?  Didn’t go to the police because she was afraid Harrah’s would fire her?  That doesn’t wash with me, sorry.  You go to the police, have the rape kit done, the whole 9 yards.  Then if Harrah’s fires you for no good reason, then you sue their asses off for wrongful termination, perhaps hostile workplace if that fits.  To me, staying silent for one full year and then suing is just a tad fishy.  Look, I’m not categorically saying Andrea McNulty is lying and I’m not saying Ben Roethlisberger is a saint because he can throw a football well.  But as things stand I am moreso inclined to believe his version of events.  Because they probably did have consensual sex, and then the “fixing the TV” story was so she could explain her spent time to her bosses.  But we’ll see what happens.

Weekly Media Matters Update; Mostly Lou Dobbs

July 25, 2009

Media Matters: Captain Lou and the Birther Brigade

Leave it to Lou Dobbs: If there’s a right-wing conspiracy theory out there floating around on the Internets, he’ll latch onto it like a pit bull. He may be past his prime, but he just won’t let go. It must be tough for CNN to look on while Dobbs discredits “the most trusted name in news,” one wild claim at a time. If there’s a hook to the conspiracy even tacitly involving the immigration issue, well, you’ve just made Dobbs’ day.

How can we forget his preoccupation with conspiracy theories about purported government plans for a “North American Union” between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada? Or his promotion of the nutty conspiracy that Mexicans plan to reconquer the American Southwest?

Over the past two weeks, however, Dobbs took things even further, pushing one of the most ludicrous conspiracy theories of the right-wing fringe: the notion that the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate is in doubt.

Kicking things off on the July 15 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Dobbs aligned himself with the far-right birther movement, devoting substantial airtime to the issue of Obama’s birth certificate, asserting repeatedly that Obama needs to “produce” it. Dobbs said that the birth certificate posted online by FactCheck.org “purporting to validate the president” has “some issues. … I mean, it’s peculiar.” He also stated that he wants to see a “long form” birth certificate, which he called “the real deal.” That same day on his CNN program, Dobbs brought up the issue again. Referring to the document that FactCheck.org posted, he said, “It is, in fact, the so-called short form, not the original document. It is really a document saying that the state of Hawaii has the real document in its possession.”

By contrast, Dobbs’ CNN colleagues have repeatedly debunked claims that Obama has yet to produce a valid birth certificate, calling them “total bull” and “a whack-job project,” and have characterized those who make these claims as “conspiracy theorists” who wear “tin foil hat[s].”

Two days after his initial rant on the subject, Kitty Pilgrim was filling in for the immigration-obsessed-crusader as guest host of his CNN show. During the broadcast, Pilgrim, a regular correspondent for Lou Dobbs Tonight, debunked claims that Obama does not have a valid birth certificate and is therefore ineligible to be president, noting that CNN “found no basis” for such claims and cited “overwhelming evidence that proves that his birth certificate is real, and that he was born in Honolulu.”

You’d think that would put an end to the nonsense. Yet, days after Pilgrim answered it on his very own show, Dobbs was back on the air claiming that the birth certificate “questions won’t go away.” A day later, still on the birther bandwagon, Dobbs said on his CNN program that “no one” knows “the reality” of Obama’s birth certificate.

Dobbs’ obsession with this fringe conspiracy did not go unnoticed by his colleagues at CNN or competing networks for that matter. With Dobbs digging in his heels, other outlets began picking up — and debunking — various strands of the story.

On the July 21 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball, host Chris Matthews hosted Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), one of nine Republican co-sponsors of what has become known as the “birther bill” — legislation that would require future presidential candidates to provide their birth certificates. During the nearly 10-minute segment, Matthews grilled the conservative congressman on the “crazy proposal,” repeatedly asking, “Do you believe that Barack Obama is a legitimate, native-born American or not?”

The following day, Los Angeles Times media writer James Rainey quoted FactCheck.org director and former CNN employee Brooks Jackson as stating, “CNN should be ashamed of itself for putting some that stuff on the air.” In the same report, Rainey noted the assertion of “one CNN employee” who, in an apparent attempt to distance Dobbs from the network, “reminded [him] several times that Dobbs’ most pointed assertions were made on his radio program, which is unconnected to CNN.”

Perhaps sensing a tidal wave of opposition to his fringe commentary mounting, Dobbs took to his radio show on July 21 to rant about the “national liberal media” debunking birther theories, telling his audience “they are not applying critical judgment.”

At least we now know what Dobbs thinks of his CNN colleagues and other members of the media, who have taken to the airwaves since Dobbs’ initial rant to debunk the Obama birth certificate theories, often while ridiculing their adherents as “nut jobs” who advance “ludicrous” claims that are “more conspiratorial than factual.”

Dobbs doesn’t want you to think he isn’t fair. You see, according to him, Obama could “make the whole…controversy disappear … by simply releasing his original birth certificate.” Yep, if the president placates a bunch of right-wing lunatics, they’ll be sure to leave him alone.

It’s not Dobbs who is on the attack; he is the victim of the “liberal media,” which is afraid to “upset the Obama White House.” It’s those “limp-minded, lily-livered lefties … attacking” Dobbs because he “actually had the temerity to inquire as to where the birth certificate was.” Dobbs’ words, not mine. You can’t make this stuff up.

In the days that followed, Dobbs faced a torrent of criticism spanning the media gambit: NBC Nightly News debunked the Dobbs-driven birther theory; MSNBC’s Chris Matthews wondered if the hubbub is about “not documentation, but pigmentation”; Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, noting that Pilgrim had debunked Dobbs on his own show, asked, “Do you even watch CNN?”; MSNBC’s Ed Schultz said, “For Lou Dobbs to wonder if President Obama is quote, ‘undocumented’ … that’s fringe psycho talk”; playing a clip of Dobbs on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, co-host Willie Geist said birthers are flogging an “imaginary controversy.”

The sparks really flew after CNN’s Roland Martin took on Dobbs’ obsession with the birther conspiracy. Interviewed by Rick Sanchez, Martin made his opinion abundantly clear, describing those who promote the conspiracy as “a small group of nutty people.” Referring to the words of a birther yelling at Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) at a recent town hall meeting, “I want my country back,” Martin said the birther really meant, “How is this black guy all of the sudden running the country?” Dobbs was none too pleased. On his radio show, he called Martin’s rebuttal “a hoot,” saying, “I can’t believe Roland would say something that stupid — that it’s racist.” The next day on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, Martin told Dobbs, “[Obama’s] not here to satisfy Lou Dobbs.”

So, who are the birthers whose claims Dobbs is advancing? The figures include Andy Martin, who has made anti-Semitic and racially charged comments; 9-11 “Truther” Philip Berg; perennial candidate for public office Alan Keyes, who has reportedly accused Obama of taking the “slaveholder’s position” on abortion; a pastor who has prayed for Obama’s death; and the discredited right-wing website WorldNetDaily. Remember, in Dobbs’ world, it is the “liberal media” who have failed to apply “critical judgment” to this issue.

Late this week, word leaked that CNN President Jon Klein had reportedly emailed information on Thursday to the staff of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight that Klein said shows the “story” about President Obama’s birth certificate “is dead.” Dobbs noted that evidence — which was a statement by the Hawaii Health Department that in 2001, paper records were replaced by electronic records — on air as Klein instructed, but then asked CNN contributor Roland Martin: “When this could be dispelled so quickly, and — and simply by producing [the birth certificate], why not do it?” We already know that Dobbs apparently doesn’t follow the reporting of his own network. I suppose, then, that it isn’t surprising to see Dobbs having issues following his own logic.

Less than 24 hours after declaring Dobbs’ pet “birther” story “dead” — and saying anyone who “is not convinced doesn’t really have a legitimate beef” — Klein caved in to Dobbs, reversing himself completely. In a statement to Washington Post Co. blogger Greg Sargent, Klein defended Dobbs and stated, “I think no good journalist would ever say that a particular story will never be covered again. Every day brings new facts, new pegs.” Additionally, according to Sargent, “Klein … took a shot at Dobbs’ critics, saying they’re politically motivated: ‘I understand that people with a partisan point of view from one extreme or anther might get annoyed that certain subjects are aired.’ ”

This raises the troubling question of who is really calling the shots at CNN.  It’s hard to see how anyone can believe CNN is the “most trusted name in news” when its own president can’t stand by his less-than-day-old word. CNN’s “Lou Dobbs problem” just got a whole lot worse.

Other major stories this week:

A banner week for Murdoch’s media empire

It was a banner week for Rupert Murdoch, whose media outlets reminded the nation again of their redeeming social and journalistic value. Sigh.

On Monday’s edition of The O’Reilly Factor, retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, a Fox News military analyst, taught America what it means to support the troops. Three weeks ago, 23-year-old Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, was taken hostage by Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The circumstances of his abduction remain unclear, with some reports indicating that he was taken by force, while others indicate that he voluntarily abandoned his post. Either way, the people of Hailey are hoping for his safe return.

But not Peters, who stunningly remarked that if Bergdahl had in fact deserted his unit, then “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.” No admonishment came from Bill O’Reilly. His words ignited a firestorm of criticism. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reported that Pentagon officials felt Peters’ commentary “could endanger” the life of Bergdahl, while on CNN, columnist John Avalon said that the “wingnut” comment had “crossed the line.” Before long, a bipartisan group of 23 veterans serving in Congress had demanded an official apology from Roger Ailes, and Rep. Eric Massa, himself a 24-year veteran of the Navy, had called for both O’Reilly and Peters to be fired from Fox. But neither O’Reilly nor Peters apologized. Instead, two days later, they said that they did wish for the soldier’s safe return, but also speculated that he might be “crazy.” The following day, Peters attacked Bergdahl again, this time on Steve Malzberg’s radio show, where he referred to him as a “deserter” and said a reported story about Bergdahl’s girlfriend was a “tissue of lies.”

At the same time that the Murdoch-led right-wing media machine was savaging the reputation of a U.S. soldier being held captive overseas, it was disseminating surreptitiously taken near-pornographic images of popular ESPN reporter Erin Andrews. The nude pictures had been culled from a video taken of Andrews through a peephole while she was staying at a hotel. O’Reilly chose to air the images in a segment titled “Did You See That?” His goal, he said during a moment of particularly robust logic, was to prove the “criminal intent” of those involved. The Murdoch-owned (or more aptly, Murdoch-destroyed) New York Post also ran with the pictures, a decision that ESPN called “beyond the pale” before it banished Post reporters from its TV and radio networks.

Congressman Wilson on Healthcare Reform

July 24, 2009

Seems to be moving towards supporting Obamacare:

Dear Friends,

After decades of political wrangling, we now have an opportunity to implement a uniquely American health care solution. This year alone, the Congress has held 79 hearings in Washington and hundreds of town hall meetings across the country. I have talked to many of you around the district and on my recent telephone town hall. While we are still waiting to see the final details of the bill, I already know of significant benefits for the people of Ohio’s Sixth District and I would like share them with you.

81,000 people who currently do not have health insurance in our district will receive coverage. Many ask why we can not cover everyone and the answer is that some of those not covered are not legal citizens and illegal immigrants will not be covered by this reform program.

Contrary to the belief that health care reform will hurt small businesses, I believe this bill will help small businesses. Under the legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 11,300 small businesses in the district that would qualify for these credits.

For our seniors on Medicare, there will be big improvements as well. Each year, 9,200 seniors in the district get caught by the Part D donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. The health care reform legislation would provide them with immediate relief, cutting brand name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and ultimately eliminating the donut hole.

Health care reform will also mean financial security for families hit by illness. In 2008 1,270 families in our district had to declare health care-related bankruptcy, primarily due to health care costs not covered by insurance. The bill provides health insurance for almost every American and caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $10,000 per year, ensuring that no citizen will have to face financial ruin because of high health care costs.

In 2008, health care providers in the district provided $89 million worth of uncompensated care, care that was provided to individuals who lacked insurance coverage and were unable to pay their bills. In the end, much of that uncompensated care gets passed to those who have insurance and we all watch our rates continue to go up and up. Under the legislation, these costs of uncompensated care would be virtually eliminated, which will help stabilize all of our costs.

I will make every effort to ensure that this legislation is deficit neutral. The cost of health care reform under the legislation is fully paid for: half through making the Medicare and Medicaid program more efficient and half through a surcharge on the income of the wealthiest, those with annual family incomes above $350,000. This surcharge would affect only 1,100 households in the entire 6th district – that means 99.6% of taxpayers in the district would not see their tax rate change.

The bill is currently being revised. While I am eager to see the final version of the bill before committing to a final vote, I’m excited by what I’ve seen so far. This legislation could do a lot of good for the people of Ohio’s Sixth District.

Sincerely,


Charlie Wilson
Member of Congress
Ohio’s Sixth District

St. Tebow Fails to Garner Consensus Preseason All-SEC Status

July 24, 2009

OMG!!!  Stop the presses!  Call out the National Guard!  Get the Joint Chiefs to the Situation Room!  OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The world is ending OMG!!!

Dear God I would call this the most vapid headline I have seen in a long time, but there are websites out there telling me Jon Gosselin was seen with Lindsay Lohan’s dad, so its a close call.  But can someone please inform the good folks at ESPN and anyone else covering this story that its not a story at all.  If there is anything less useful than PRESEASON All-blahblahblah teams I am not immediately familiar with it.  And yes, Tim Tebow is a good college football player.  But he has never walked on water, parted seas, converted water into vino, raised the dead, or raised himself from the dead.  So lets not pretend otherwise.  And mostly, lets not fret over complete and total non-stories.  We have other reasons to lampoon Steve Spurrier.