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Friday, July 16, 2004

Haven't blogged any this week, so I thought I'd post a photo instead. Feel free to visit my photoblog for some others from this batch. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

When Democrats Start in on Education

You know, when they start yakking about how the President's education package (co-authored by Professor Kennedy) "doesn't do enough", consider this:

U.S. Tells States to Spend School Funds

The Education Department has found that all the states, the District of Columbia and eight territories have high cash balances left from 2002, including money meant for poor children, disabled students and limited-English learners.

States then have two final years to spend the money. Ultimately, school money not committed or spent returns to the federal treasury, as happened with $155 million last year.

Last year, before the big bucks kicked in? So now there's even MORE to spend?

Oh, and what exactly do we get for our investment?

More than $2.1 billion is unspent from 2002, or about 8 percent of the money allocated for five broad areas, including special education and adult education. The department's letters to states identified only those cash balances that seemed particularly high.

The department issued its reminder, Jones said, to ensure that states don't miss their chances to use the money. It's part of a broader effort this year to help states account for all the federal money available and to draw it down more quickly.

We are sooooooooo underfunded we can't remember to even spend what little money we do have!

GOP leaders are expanding an argument made this year by the department, the White House and congressional Republicans: that schools are flush with federal money. It's meant to counter the claim that President Bush, who championed a law demanding greater improvement in all schools, has not come close to keeping his promise to pay for changes the law demands.

"We've literally flooded the system with cash, and it's time to start focusing on improving student achievement instead," said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

Please, just produce students who can read and write, and who realize they will actually have to do SOMETHING productive in order to get a paycheck....

More on Weapons

I wish someone would tell foreign terrorists what all the U.S. journalists already know: there are not now, nor were there ever, Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.

Poland: Troops beat terrorist to chemical munitions in Iraq

Terrorists may have been close to obtaining munitions containing the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin that Polish soldiers recovered last month in Iraq, the head of Poland's military intelligence said Friday.

Nothing to see here. Keep moving, folks. Everything will be just fine.

Of course, why would terrorists even be looking for something everyone now knows isn't there????

Praise for a Big Corporate Bank

Ok. It is easy to see big corporate banks as evil. There are some (Chase Manhattan Bank and WellsFargo are two that I hate to deal with in my job) who help justify the stereotype.

I have to say, though, that Bank One has earned my respect. First of all, they have been wonderful to work with in the few instances where I actually have to do face-to-face banking. We have a simple checking account, but the folks in the local branch offices have been great every single time. Now, in the wake of the Thief who took $240 from my "fun money" account (which was going to buy some photographic supplies for our upcoming Colorado vacation) they have quickly acted to reimburse us for that money. (They were also the ones who immediately tipped us on which ATM had been used, allowing us to get the photo of the dude.)

I really dislike the Bank One commercials with the woman who looks at everyone's credit cards and comments about their "personality". But Bank One has been wonderful to work with.

Also, our local bank (Ball State Federal Credit Union) has been wonderful on many, many occasions (including financing our hot tub and Cami's new/used car). This incident has been no different.

Finally, a good Samaritan called today, and told Cami he had found her Driver's License behind the K-Mart in town. High Class. It was nice of the person to call though.

Friday, July 02, 2004

More Moore

More Soundbites from articles:

Coalition of the Wild-Eyed, By Mark Goldblatt

For in its desperation to elect John Kerry president this November, the Democratic hierarchy is busy cobbling together what the Bush campaign recently, and accurately, dubbed Kerry's Coalition of the Wild-Eyed. Rather than putting forward a coherent platform of policy objectives, the Democrats have cast a net of free-floating political rage in the hopes of scooping up every amateur conspiracy theorist with a grudge against the status quo.

Senator Kerry knows each of these beliefs is false, demonstrably false, yet he cannot afford to disown any of them because he's made the paranoid fringe a key constituency. The problem runs deeper than the political reality that he cannot distance himself from mainstream-figures-turned-partisan-flamethrowers like Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean and the entirety of the Congressional Black Caucus; Kerry cannot even dismiss Michael Moore's loopy suggestion in his new film that the war in Afghanistan wasn't about overthrowing the Taliban government, which harbored al Qaeda terrorists, but about allowing the Unocal Corporation to build a natural gas pipeline through the country. Kerry cannot, in short, speak the truth without alienating his reflexively wary base.

But that choice no longer works for the Democrats -- who just can't win elections anymore by proposing big government solutions. Their fallback strategy now seems to consist of appealing to voters' worst emotions, tapping into their delusions, their fears, their passions and prejudices, accusing their Republican opposition not merely of being wrong on the issues but of thwarting democracy and engaging in genocide for profit.

No tactic could be more cynical. Or more dangerous to the future of political discourse.

More Distortions From Michael Moore, By Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball

In his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” film-maker Michael Moore makes the eye-popping claim that Saudi Arabian interests “have given” $1.4 billion to firms connected to the family and friends of President George W. Bush.

But a cursory examination of the claim reveals some flaws in Moore’s arithmetic—not to mention his logic.

Leave aside the tenuous six-degrees-of-separation nature of this “connection.” The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn’t join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998—five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm. True enough, the former president was paid for one speech to Carlyle and then made an overseas trip on the firm’s behalf the previous fall, right around the time BDM was sold. But Ullman insists any link between the former president’s relations with Carlyle and the Saudi contracts to BDM that were awarded years earlier is entirely bogus. “The figure is inaccurate and misleading,” said Ullman. “The movie clearly implies that the Saudis gave $1.4 billion to the Bushes and their friends. But most of it went to a Carlyle Group company before Bush even joined the firm. Bush had nothing to do with BDM.”

But unmentioned in “Fahrenheit/911,” or in the Lehane responses, is a considerable body of evidence that cuts the other way. The idea that the Carlyle Group is a wholly owned subsidiary of some loosely defined “Bush Inc.” concern seems hard to defend. Like many similar entities, Carlyle boasts a roster of bipartisan Washington power figures. Its founding and still managing partner is David Rubenstein, a former top domestic policy advisor to Jimmy Carter. Among the firm’s senior advisors is Thomas “Mack” McLarty, Bill Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, and Arthur Levitt, Clinton’s former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. One of its other managing partners is William Kennard, Clinton’s chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Spokesman Ullman was the Clinton-era spokesman for the SEC.

Under the Hot Lights, Michael Isikoff

Saudi flights out of the United States. The movie claims that in the days after 9/11, when airspace was shut down, the White House approved special charter flights so that prominent Saudis—including members of the bin Laden family—could leave the country. Author Craig Unger appears, claiming that bin Laden family members were never interviewed by the FBI. Not true, according to a recent report from the 9/11 panel. The report confirms that six chartered airplanes flew 142 mostly Saudi nationals out of the country, including one carrying members of the bin Laden family. But the flights didn't begin until Sept. 14—after airspace reopened. Moreover, the report states the Saudi flights were screened by the FBI, and 22 of the 26 people on the bin Laden flight were interviewed. None had any links to terrorism.

Richard Clarke: Big Part of Moore's Movie 'a Mistake'

Former White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke, who served as a principal source for conspiracy filmmaker Michael Moore's movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," said this week that the central premise of the film is "a mistake."

Saying Moore's version of the episode has provoked "a tempest in a tea pot," Clarke called his decision to make the bin Laden family flyout a big part of the film's indictment against Bush "a mistake."
"After 9/11, I think the Saudis were perfectly justified ... in fearing the possibility of vigilantism against Saudis in this country. When they asked to evacuate their citizens ... I thought it was a perfectly normal request," he explained.

In May, Clarke confessed that he and he alone made the decision to approve the flyouts.

Clarke told the 9/11 Commission the same thing in March, after first detailing the episode for Vanity Fair magazine last August - leaving plenty of time for Moore to adjust his film to the facts as recounted by his primary source.

Limbaughing to the left? By Ellen Goodman

If "Fahrenheit 9/11" preaches to the choir, you could find me in the alto section.

But at some point, I also began to feel just a touch out of harmony. Not even this alto believes that the Iraq war was brought to us courtesy of the Bush-Saudi oil-money connection. Not even the rosiest pair of my retro-spectacles sees prewar Iraq as a happy valley where little children flew kites.

If even Ellen G. finds herself in doubt, then you know it's bad.

Even a blind squirell...

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Somedays, You Wonder Why You Get Out of Bed

I'll explain in a minute... Posted by Hello

So, anyway...

It was a typical Wednesday morning. In the process of "getting ready for work" I went out to the driveway to retrieve something from my car. I noticed Cami's new/used car had the driver's side door slightly ajar. Being the typical husband, I assumed she had not shut it completely the night before, thus leaving the dome light on all night, possibly running the battery low. I shut the door, noticing several of her CDs strewn across the front seat.

Back in the house I asked her if she had, perhaps, gone out to the car looking for something while I was in the shower. Her answer was, no. I then, gently of course, told her she had apparently left her door ajar overnight, and reminded her to be more careful in the future. I also mentioned the CDs on the front seat.

"I didn't do that," she responded. "Did you happen to notice if my bag was still in the car?"

THE BAG: containing papers and materials for school/tutoring, her hand-held computer/planner, her ID/Credit Cards/checkbook/etc, and other materials. Think of a small suitcase that doubles as both purse and filing cabinet.

It was, alas, no longer in the vehicle.

Sometime between midnight and 2:00 am, the street-thug pictured above relieved us of the burden of THE BAG.

The credit card companies/banks and the police were called. While we waited for the police officer to come, I tracked down the sanitation truck (it was trash day in our neighborhood) and asked the guys on the truck to keep their eyes out for any discarded materials. I also did a quick drive circuit of the neighborhood, looking for anything that the thief might have tossed.

Once I got back to the house, we finished with one bank and found out the other wouldn't open until 9:00 am, and the emergency number they gave on their answering service was incorrect. While I waited at the house for the police officer, Cami decided to take off on foot in search of clues. She nextel-ed me a few minutes later with the "news" that she could see some of her items in a dumpster of an apartment building less than two blocks from our house. She stayed to guard the dumpster as I continued to wait for the officer.

15 minutes later, when the officer appeared, she made it clear that she would "take your statement, but we probably won't really investigate this kind of thing."

She agreed to follow me over to the dumpster site, where I climbed in among the trash as Cami gave her statement and tried to detail the items missing (including about $50 worth of various gift-certificats given to her by her students on the last day of school). The bag and a lot of the unusable paper/file-type items were there in the dumpster. I also found the personal effects of two other likely victims of the same thief, which I turned over to the officer.

Later, one bank was able to tell us the perp (sounds official, eh?) had used the ATM/Visa card to withdraw $220 from the "fun money" account I use to buy photo supplies, CDs, and other non-essentials. We immediately drove to the location of the ATM, and spoke to the branch manager. Later in the day, they provided us with a photo, a low-res copy of which is posted above.

The other bank told us he had used our other Visa/Check card to pay at the pump for $17 in gas (apparently he didn't find the PIN to that card on Cami's pocket PC). The video survelience at the gas station does not include any outside cameras (wonder how they deal with drive-offs?) so we were unable to get any more info there.

This morning, Cami decided to drop by the dumpster again, just for kicks. More of her items (including some old checkbooks and other financial receipts) were now dumped there. We called the police and said we would like them to note there is a pretty good chance the guy is local. One detective seemed interested in our information. He has, subsequently, already been reassigned to a different case.

So far, they have not interviewed anyone in the area of the apartment building. Cami has sat in a parking lot across the street, out of view, watching to see if our friend above might just live there. If so, his life will get pretty rough, very soon.