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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Best Letter To The Editor

Some blogs post a regular feature they refer to as "the week's worst letter to the editor". I think I will try a variation of that and post the "Week's Best Letter To The Editor". Here is the inaugural winner from a Kate Kane of Chesterport. She wrote into the New York Post and pointed out the stupidity and waste of money when the school district spends vast sums of time and money to translate documents to languages other than English. Good Job Kate! (Sorry but there is no prize yet for the winner).

Best Letter To The Editor(from the New York Post on 01/28/06):
Dear Editor:
As a bilingual social worker in a NYC public school, I protest the City Council's plan to translate school-related documents so as to engage more parents in their childrens' education. The schools already translate many documents for parents. In addition, a bilingual staff is available to help parents with translations and specific school issues.

Since non-English-speaking parents are able to get jobs, apply for welfare, make airline reservations and obtain apartments, they are clearly able to function in New York City. The parents who are not involved in their children's education choose not to be involved.

Kate Kane

Friday, January 27, 2006

How Long Has Ex-CNN Anchor Believed This?

I never cared for Aaron Brown, the former CNN anchor. Thought he was too much of a wuss and was better suited to be one of those soft spoken NPR jobs.

Now that he is an ex-anchor for a cable channel, Brown is freely sharing his deep thoughts and big ideas. Below is what he said recently about the world today:

"Truth no longer matters in the context of politics and, sadly, in the context of cable news," said Aaron Brown, whose four-year period as anchor of CNN's NewsNight ended in November, when network executives gave his job to Anderson Cooper in a bid to push the show's ratings closer to front-runner Fox News.

And I think Brown is still being paid by CNN at least until the end of his contract.

Phoenix Real Estate

Saw this item about Phoenix real estate and specifically John McCain's attempt to sell his mansion. I was out in Scottsdale about 4 months ago and wondered then if it could be a good market to open a 2nd office. Don't think this is a bubble yet. Below is the link if you want to read.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What You Might Call "Thinking Outside The Box"

The NY Knicks GM is being sued for sex harrassment by a former Knicks employee.

In these types of cases, all kinds of claims and accusations are thrown against the wall in the hopes one claim will stick (against the deep-pocketed defendant like the Knicks). So the lady included the claim that Isiah Thomas wanted to schedule more games at noon because he planned to try to to get the opposing team's players drunk the night before at area clubs. If this is a false claim, I suggest Thomas should claim (off the record of course) it's true because it's a pretty crafty scheme- what I call thinking outside the box.

Below is the actual quote from the news story. "The lawsuit also alleges that Thomas told Browne Sanders he was pushing for more home games at noon on Sundays. His plan, according to Browne Sanders, was to have opposing players go to certain clubs, including strip clubs, that Thomas had connections with on Saturday nights and get them drunk so they would be sluggish for the game the next day.

"The Antique Media"

Below is the link to an excellent article called the Antique Media by Thomas Lifson. I think he nails what has occurred to the MSM and what lies in their future.

I wholeheartedly agree with his statement that Watergate led to the MSM taking a sharp left turn. I believe Watergate actually ruined the MSM. After Watergate, the average media employee evolved from having an ordinary lower to middle class background to being an Ivy League rich kid bound and determined to emulate Woodward & Bernstein and take out a president too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

This Is Just Plain Wrong

Here is a NY Post story about how some Port Authority cops are making mucho dinero in overtime in 2005. The story listed five policeman and how much they made includng overtime:

Sgt. Rienzie $249,000
Sgt. P. Ryan $228,000
Ofc. P. Callaghan $210,000
Sgt. R. Keith $225,000
Sgt. L Goldberg $210,000

And I guess a good year like this makes their pension check that much fatter!! Pretty good for a civil servant, huh? Below is the link to the story if you don't believe me....

Monday, January 23, 2006

90% Of Homeless Victims Were Drunk

In a story about the extreme cold in Europe, this sentence caught my eye.... "About half the vistims were homeless and 90% of those were drunk." Now is that an estimate and can it be accurate? Did they actually test the corpse's blood alcohol after it thawed out? Or did the writer mean to say the homeless victims were alcoholics which would be a very different statement with different meaning (the "90% were drunk" would never get past an American editor who would be troubled about appearing politically incorrect)?

BTW, every winter in Alaska, it is routine to hear about a few people who have died from severe exposure after exiting a bar (the night before) in a drunken stupor and passing out in a snowbank before they could make it to their home. Below is the link to the story re the European frost if you want to read.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Walmart, Government Employees & Other Questions

The Maryland State Legislature just passed a law requiring Walmart to pay a minimum of 8% of Walmart employees’ payroll towards health insurance for the employees.

I don’t support this type of legislation because it really targets and singles out one company. And I am just not convinced Walmart is evil though I am aware that idea is the current conventional wisdom being spread by the left-leaning political class and its grass-roots lapdogs.

But if you drill down deep enough, you will find a substantial chasm between what the state legislators are requiring of Walmart and what taxpayers “contribute” towards health insurance for state/local government employees (a group which generally includes state legislators). And few are discussing this chasm because it is not part of the news du jour.

Statistics show the average government employee is paid significantly more than the average non-government employee and their benefits cost considerably more than the average non-government employee. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (published in USA Today on January 17, 2005):

  • The average state/local government employee is paid $24.52 per hour and gets health insurance worth another $3.82 per hour. That totals $28.34.

  • So, the state/local govt. employee’s health insurance is 16% of his hourly pay.

  • The average non-government (private) employee earns $17.23 per hour and gets health insurance worth another $1.66. That totals $18.89.

  • So the private employee’s health insurance is 10% of his hourly pay.

  • The cost of health insurance for govt. employees is more than TWICE the cost paid for the average private employee ($3.82 vs. $1.66).
As I said above, the Maryland legislation requires Walmart to pay at least 8% towards employee health insurance.

Whether you agree with the legislation or not, it is fair to ask why the legislators require only 8% when taxpayers pay 16% for its beloved government employees and private employers pay only 10%. And you may also ask why does the average government employee’s health insurance cost the taxpayers so much? Depending on how well you like the answer to that question, it could be time for a change!

(In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I am self-employed and pay100% of my own health insurance premiums.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cold In Russia So Get The Monkeys Drunk

It;s been very cold in Russia, so the monkeys at the zoo are getting what I assume is special care because I saw this quote in a news story on Drudge..... "At a zoo in Lipetsk, south of Moscow, zoo director Alexander Osipov said monkeys would be given wine three times day, "to protect against colds," the RIA-Novosti news agency reported. I bet the monkeys like this daily regimen of forced drunkenness. Could give a whole new meaning to the phrase "monkey business" but I suspect PETA will launch a protest soon.

(Non-profit) Ambulance Company Finances Are Probed

One of my pet peeves is when a non-profit does not spend a sufficient portion of its income on its primary and stated mission (like the PU which spends maybe 5% of its total net worth), or serves to greatly enrich those who control it (like this ambulance company apparently), or one which spends "charitable" funds on programs that may not be charitable efforts (like the PU which is spending $50Million or so to move an art museum).

So today's Inquirer has a story about a Philadelphia area non-profit ambulance company whose unpaid executives may have diverted a good part of donated funds to some non-ambulance purposes. These included remodeling one's home to the tune of $70,000, buying two jet skis for $14,000 and paying the tab at several strip clubs. Jeez, how do you expect these hard-working volunteers to unwind? Here is the link if you want to read the whole story.

911 Truce Offer on 119

Is it concidental that OBL has broadcast a truce offer on January 19 (or 119)? I think it is a poignant moment and provides proof we have Al Quaeda turned around and on the run so that 911 is now signified by their de facto surrender and we will one day celebrate this day as 119! Let's hope I am right.

Somewhere His Former Employer Is Breathing A Sigh Of Relief

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, is said to be a former executive for a cable company. Do you think that company misses him?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

TV Star Did Not Own A TV (and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you)

Don't you want to smack a TV star when you hear them say they don't watch TV or don't even own a TV? Because when you hear this, you are actually spending your own valuable time watching this faux snob on your TV.

The reason I bring this up, I saw a little of the Golden Globes the other night and a star of the show, LOST, was being interviewed. Her name is Evangeline Lilly and is a up and coming star accoring to the news media. Lilly was asked about her career, etc. and in one response, she claims that prior to being on the show, she did not have nor watch TV. I am skeptical when people or actors claim such nonsense and suspect they think the public will view them as some sort of intellectual.

They should have asked Lilly (CORRECTION) about her two castmates being arrested for DWI about 3-4 weeks ago and within 30 minutes of each other. Now, that would have been interesting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Tale Of Two Idiots

The Arizona Republic wrote a story today about a young Glendale couple who have an annual income of over $120,000 per year, pay $208 per month for health insurance and can't seem to get ahead.

The paper called the story "Benefits Drive Choice Of Jobs" and that's not really news anymore. But if you read this story, I suggest a better title would be "Crying Poor With a Loaf Of Bread Under Each Arm And One In Her Mouth" or perhaps "A Tale Of Two Idiots". For your reading pleasure, here is the link. It will make you want to strangle these two dopes. And if the paper was aiming to harpoon the healthcare industry or corporate America, its aim was way off the mark.

I Propose The Pew Charitable Trust Change Its Name to The PU Charitable Trust

If The PU agrees to my proposal, I will lend my support to its unbelievably dynamic and wonderfully unique and creative idea to change the name of 30th Street Station to Ben Franklin Station. And the PU must also modify its brand by adding a smelly but small skunk to its logo and letterhead.

Monday, January 16, 2006

PU Charitable Trust Announces It Will Never Lack For Ways to Waste Its Charitable Funds

The PU Charitable Trust is behind the idea to change the name of Philly's Amtrak station from its current name of 30th Street Station to "Ben Franklin Station" in honor of his 300th birthday which I believe is today. And what a coincidence it is that Mayor Street and Philly's Government's Official Tourism Agency Head (Meryl Levitz) now support this idea. Hell, Levitz went so far as to write an OPED for the INquirer touting this wonderful groundbreaking idea.

Now keep in mind the PU Charitable Trust is officially named The Pew Charitable Trust. AND it is willing to pay as much as $3Million in expenses to Amtrak to cover the estimated cost of changing the signs,etc to Ben Franklin Station. I can believe it is very expensive to change those little revolving and clicking signs you see at train stations. But is this the true work and mission of the PU Charitable Trust??

What would you think if a church or other charity had this idea and offered to pay for such a low (IMHO) priority initiative? I am a firm believer the government should just take 10% of the PU's money (they have more than $4 Billion) each year or tax them like a for-profit company.

The story contained a funny quote from the Philly Weekly regarding PU's wasteful proposal...Philadelphia Weekly this week joked that the proposal "shows the Pew Charitable Trusts is running out of ways to spend their money."

Here is the Inquirer reporter's slightly cynical (IMHO) outlook on the PU idea: " The charity maintains more than $4 billion in assets. Redoing all the signage at the train station is expected to run a mere $3 million". Good for Inga Saffron, she is one of the paper's best writers and she successfully belittles the PU proposal without being too obvious.

Addicted To Our Tax Revenues

The Philly news stations and talk-radio have been buzzing about a plan by the state legislature to enact a sales tax of 6-7% on health and fitness club dues. They are going pretty nuts asking why they want to tax something that is so good for you.

The answer is the political class is addicted to tax revenue. They claim they want to reform property taxes so they raise the sales tax and hope no one notices. They rarely reduce government expenditures and that is the root of the problem.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Blogosphere Asks Congress To Heal Itself Or Else

Read the mission statement from some bloggers who are appealing to the current Congress to clean up its act or be voted out. Here is the link below:

Speaking Of Felons (Michael Milken)

It's easy to forget but Philly is known for a few more things than just soft pretzels, Rocky, saying wodder instead of water, and corrupt politicians. Here is a list of the Top Ten Life Sciences markets as ranked by an investment organization named after a convicted felon (I think). Philly is #3!! The Top Ten as ranked by Milken Institute Life Sciences Composite Index (June 2005 list) below (and don't ask me what the score in parenthesis means):

1. Boston (100)
2. Greater San Francisco (98.4)
3. Greater Philadelphia (97.1)
4. Greater New York (94.6)
5. Greater Raleigh-Durham (91.1)
6. San Diego (90.7)
7. Greater Los Angeles (87.0)
8. Minneapolis (77.9)
9. Chicago (75.9)
10. Seattle (70.9)

Limit Political Campaign Contributions To The Average Weekly Wage

I saw a report yesterday that the average weekly wage in the largest metro markets is $751. And I thought it would make sense to limit lawful campaign contributions to the size of the average American's weekly paycheck.

So, let's hear it for a campaign contribution limit of no more than $751 (one week's pay) to a single candidate and no more than the average year's pay ($751 x 52 = $39,052) for a candidate to donate to himself. But, let's be nice and allow immediate family members to give no more than 4 weeks pay (4 x $751). These limits will prevent super-rich candidates like Jon Corzine from buying their way into office by funding their own humongous campaign chest.

This sound reasonable to you? Oh and only eligible voters can make contributions; that means no more corporate nor union nor PAC nor felon's money allowed!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

DNA Says Executed Killer Was In Fact Guilty

USA Today just reported the convicted killer who was executed in 1992 by the state of Virginia was found guilty for a second time by DNA testing. Here is a pretty funny quote from the story:

"Death penalty proponents welcomed the results. "Stop the presses — it turns out that rapists and killers are also liars," Michael Paranzino, president of a group called Throw Away the Key, said in a statement. "

You gotta admit that's a funny line- wonder who else besides me will "borrow it". Below is the link to the story if you would like to read it.

No Call For Reader Profanity But Paper Left Out Pertinent Fact From Story

I heard back from the Inquirer reporter whose story I took issue with in a previous post. She was very reasonable and did admit the Sunday Justice counter-rally was organized by a group called Fenton Communications. When I googled Fenton on the internets, I learned it is very big lobbying firm and has done a lot of work for and some other liberal initiatives (that background should have been included in the news story).

Here is a link to their website:

The reported admitted, in hindsight, she should have included the Fenton involvement in her story. Fenton organized the conference call for the opposing ministers with media members and I believe that went a long way in demonstrating Fenton's influence and ability to get a news story placed in a very large metro newspaper (and which ended up on Page 1 of the Metro section).

The reporter also told me she got a lot of complaints about the story and many of the complainers were Christians and some used disgusting profanity. I believe her and that is just not right!!

The Inquirer should print those that were made in emails and let the writer be damned (especially if they are Christian, ha ha). How can readers expect reporters to be fair and impartial when the reporters are abused like that?

And, I do confess I once did that in a business email and a lotta subsequent f-bombs were exchanged. I almost made a hasty, long-distance trip to resolve that issue to my own personal satisfaction but I am told vengeance is best when served cold (is that the correct quote?)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

60 Million Watched the Rose Bowl But 80 Million Will See The Alito Rally

Below is the link to a news story about a rally planned for a black church in north Philadelphia. The rally is to gather support for the nomination of Samuel Alito. The story predicts the rally will have a TV audience of 80 Million!! Here is the quote from the story ...."The program is to air to an audience estimated at 80 million through Christian television and radio stations and through simulcasts to churches".

That is a seriously outlandish estimate. According to US Today on Friday, the Rose Bowl was seen by 21.7% of US households which represents 60 million viewers (or 1 out of every 5 Americans) IF and only IF every person in those households watched the game.

I emailed a letter to the Inky editor and asked how they came up with this estimate of an 80 million audience. I also asked how and who organized the Inquirer's conference call with the concerned ministers since the conference call seems to have spurred the story.

Lastly, the story in the paper was headlined" Plans For Christian Rally Are Attacked". The online version now reads "criticized" instead of attacked. It seems the MSM truly views these Christian groups and events as something to be demonized and their influence grossly exagerrated. It's almost hilarious but it is a shame too. And I am writing as a lapsed Catholic who has been in a church twice in the last two years (each time was for a funeral) so don't get the idea I am some sort of born-again evangelical.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The National Dems Are So Stupid

According to this Drudge Report flash, the Democrats plan to try to take down Judge Alito by smearing him with wacky witnesses including a PETA supporter who sounds like a real whackadoodle (named Steven Dujack?).

The Dems are truly stuck on stupid. Let's face it: Judge Alito is not a sinister or evil character and the American people sense that so they will be amazed the Dems are pulling this stunt.

It's almost a suicidal strategy; they should clean house and recruit some reasonable leaders (like Harold Ford) who are not weenies, wussies, geeks, know-it-alls and elitists. That's why they can't win elections.

Think about it...Reid, Dean, Kerry, Pelosi, Kennedy, Boxer, Durbin, Carl Levin, Rahm Emanual, HRC. The American people must look at this group and gag. And I used to revere the Kennedys but this group of idiots pales when compared to JFK and RFK.

If Kennedy had balls, he'd ask to raise the minimum wage to $10 AND get rid of alot of the wasteful social programs like paid day care. But he has no balls and never had vision.

The Republican are only slightly better but they are better. Here is the link to the Drudge report if you want to read.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Almost 95% Caucasian

At the Reading Terminal on Friday 12/30 around 2PM for lunch. It's very crowded, business is booming and (I tend to be observant and notice stuff) I estimate the crowd is almost 95% non-black. What is up with that?? Philly has to be around 50% black population...can my eyes be deceiving me? No, because it's the same at a Philles or an Eagles game. Why is that- is it due to socio-economic differences? Just thought I'd ask.

And BTW, the Reading Terminal(a gigantic former Pennsylvania Railroad trainshed in downtown Philly at 12th and Arch) is a fantastic place to visit and eat lunch if you are in Philly. It's open Mondays-Saturdays and is food court style so everyone can get different stuff ranging from cheesesteaks, sushi, crab cakes, Italian, Pa Dutch/ Amish specialties, Termini's baked goods. Enough said!

Don't Ordinarily Do Movie Reviews...

but is it really possible to have THREE thumbs up or down?

Get Me Some Scalps (every edition)

Let me try to keep this really simple. Newspaper readers like it best when the paper rakes a lotta muck and serves its readers plenty of fresh, bloody scalps. Is that really a secret to anyone?? Then why have the newspapers stopped serving me scalps everyday with my daily paper?

It's a simple formula (or business model as they like to call it in Harvard Business School) ...give me, the faithful reader, some scalps and I will buy AND read your paper on a regular basis. Yes, I mean the scalps of people like Abramoff, The Hammer, Senator Vince, Fast Eddie, Ricky the Councilman, Slam Dunk Tenet, corporate pension looters, union goons who loot the taxpayers with fat pension demands, the (ostensible) charity bigwigs who spend less than 10% of every dollar they have (like the PU Foundation), the football team owners who could have spent maybe $1 Million after the Superbowl on a bone for T.O. and thus avoided this fiasco of a season, the bigshots at the electric company and SEPTA and Blue Cross who authorized wasting millions on TV ads, the local weather news idiots who think we are scared to leave the house without their forecast, cops who don't ticket enough nimrods who chat on cell phones while driving like imbeciles, politicians who have been in office for years yet have never seen the Friday rush-hour bottlenecks, and school boards and editorial writers who think all the schools need is just s little more money, amd lastly people who think everyone can be saved and have the same identical opportunity-filled and boring life and eliminate the grisly world which produces all the storylines for our beloved cop shows (now, that is a scary Law & Order on TV).

Yes, that is all I want from my newspaper. Am I asking for too much?

The Inquirer Does Some Fine Katrina Reporting

The Philadelphia Inquirer had a fine story on January 2, 2006 which reported the Katrina dead were no poorer, on average, than the residents of the New Orleans area as a whole. Kudos to the Inquirer for giving its readers some pure unalderated analysis and reporting based on facts!

Here are some money quotes from the story: "Four months after Hurricane Katrina, analyses suggest that some widely reported assumptions about the storm's victims were incorrect.

For example, a comparison of the locations where 874 bodies were recovered with U.S. Census tract data indicates that the victims were not disproportionately poor.

Another database, compiled by Knight Ridder of 486 Katrina victims from Orleans Parish and neighboring St. Bernard Parish, suggests they also were not disproportionately African American." Below is the link to the story; I recommend you read it.

Munich- Three Thumbs Up

This was a good movie for all the reasons King Kong wasn't. Munich had good casting, was well acted, offered a good story line, was only a tad long, and contained much less hand-wringing than I expected (but still a little too much) by the Israeli killers.

My only complaint was Munich lacked some needed testosterone- like you got from the movie Gladiator. In that movie, when the Roman troops were warming up for a big fight, some great stirring music filled the theatre (and I now have the album) and it made you want to run out of the theatre and decapitate the closest Hun or Visigoth!

Munich was a little like watching a bunch of physics students get on the job training as hired hit men. But, I still recommend it to movie-goers. It's better than average!

King Kong-Three Thumbs Down

This was definitely not worth paying to see in the theatre. The casting sucked (Jack Black and Adrian Brody in particular), the one big chase scene with the brontosauruses was ridiculous (they all would have been killed) and the movie was THREE HOURS long!

I will concede the Ape was great and so was the star actress and the fight with the three T-Rexes was good. All in all, I recommend you wait until it comes out on DVD.