Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Forgivable Sins?

I grew up in an AEMC church. The notion that we are all sinners was prominent in the weekly sermons. Coupled with the whole sin thing was forgiveness and redemption. Ok, fine. What is too often lost in the land of forgiveness is accountability.

Putting Ray Nagin back on the government payroll supports this attitude. His fingerprints were all over the mess what happened after the storm. Shit happens. How you deal with shit happening speaks to one's character.

He was given an opportunity do what he could have done to manage the situation from his level. It is well documented what he failed to do. By no means am I giving that silly woman Governor or our fearless leader in DC a free pass.

To forgive Nagin his sins is wonderful, not to hold him accountable is just silly

BTW, they should have thrown William Jefferson under the bus, too.

Ye protest too much

Another day, another self-righteous Republican apologizing for bad behavior. If he is gay, who cares? If he is doing dumb shit in the men's room, well that is another story. Should we have another bathroom for kids so they are not exposed to Republican politicians?

I learned far too much about "tapping"codes signaling the need to be serviced.

What never ceases to amaze me is the willingness of these wives to drug out to a press conference to stand by their man. Are they so caught up in the lifestyle that comes with being married to a politician, they will do whatever it takes to keep it? Politics is clearly their drug of choice.

For the dumbass to hold a press conference just dumped gas on the story. How long will be before all of his boyfriends surface?

Get over yourself, end the hell for your family and resign.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Taken to the wood shed

Just because sensed Trot would be leaving, it did not make it hurt any less. After what seemed like an endless spell of rain, I needed to be outside. So I accepted an invitation to the Phillies game. I assumed watching my Phils would the perfect prescription for my mid-August blues.

Yet another miscalculation. Watching the game was like a guy taking Midol for a headache. It will cure the pain but it's just weird.

That pretty much summed up the evening. The weather was crappy and so were the Phillies.

I suppose I shouldn't complain, I could be a Orioles fan.

It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday........

When the end of the Trotter era was announced there was a flurry of e-mails. There was a combination of furry and sadness.

I was the only one in our little corner of Eagles Nation, not surprised. At the end of last season, it was obvious that Trot had lost a step. Teams were running through the middle at will. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson blamed it on the extra weight he was carrying.

Team Lurie has focused on building a 'consistent winner." Think about it. They were grooming two cornerbacks to step up to replace Pro Bowlers Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. Fine and Fabulous (chick moment). Neither one returned to the Pro Bowl after their departure. Coincidence?

The Eagles used their first pick in the draft on a QB. There was a collective chorus from the media, that Lurie was sending a message to chronically injured McNabb. What they missed what the message that was sent to the entire team. "We may love you, but this is business." Ouch.

When Trot reported to camp, he was nine pound lighter. BUT, there was a different energy radiating from him and the spin machine. You could sense it.

When I offered that opinion, one of my associates informed me that I was nuts. "There was no way, Eagles would cut him,"he argued passionately. "he's the man, he is too important of a leader, he bleeds green," the sermon continued.

"Trot's thirty and slow", I countered. In Eagleville, 30 is old.

I love Trotter, so do the Eagles but his career as a player in Philly is over. He may land some place, even play a year or two. When he retires, he will do so as an Eagle.

I wouldn't be surprised if he landed back Eagleville as a coach.

Word to the wise, if Dawkins Achilles tendon does not improve, he will be next.........I don't even want to think about it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

When in Doubt, Be Nice

I manage a cross section of employees: nurses, claim adjusters, clerks, IT, and producers. The most challenging aspect of my job is to get these folks to respect each other.

All of these positions are critical to servicing our clients. All believe they work "harder" than the person in the next cube.

None of them have figured out that we exist purely to make the shareholders a boatload of money, while they will be lucky to get a 3% raise.

Amazing.

Tragic Reality of War

"HBO’s contribution to an expanded awareness of the awful realities of war continues with a new documentary, “Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.”

Mr. Gandolfini, one of the executive producers of the film, steps out of his Tony Soprano persona to quietly, even gently, interview 10 soldiers and marines who barely escaped death in combat.

The interviews are powerful, and often chilling. They offer a portrait of combat and its aftermath that bears no relation to the sanitized, often upbeat version of war — not just in Iraq, but in general — that so often comes from politicians and the news media.

Dawn Halfaker, a 28-year-old former Army captain, is among those featured in the documentary. She lost her right arm and shoulder in Iraq, along with any illusions she might have had about the glory of war.

“I think I was a little bit na├»ve to what combat was really like,” she told me in an interview on Sunday. “When you’re training, you don’t really imagine that you could be holding a dying boy in your arms. You don’t think about what death is like close up.

“There’s nothing heroic about war. It’s very tragic. It’s very sad. It takes a huge emotional toll.”

The Price of Friendship

"In a way, I feel sorry for him. He had so much talent and so little insight into his own life. He had a great instinct for helping kids and no instinct at all for the true nature of kindness. Most of all, when he landed the big bonus and the big endorsements, he never noticed that the guys with whom he was keeping it real were destroying everything he’d worked so hard to get.

And in the end, when the feds came down on him like a pack of, well, pit bulls, his buddies forgot all about keeping it real and thought only of keeping their own worthless backsides out of jail. Their keen sense of self-interest led them to attach themselves to Vick’s wallet like moray eels. That same sense made it easy for them to turn on him.

But that’s what always comes of buying friendship instead of earning it."

More of the Same

What a shock, it's still raining.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blue Monday

It has rained ALL flippin'day. The grass looks better and the trees perked up.
Me, I watched clouds move across the sky most of the day.

More the same tomorrow.

Whoooopeeeee

Vick's NFL career is over

Fed Rate Cut, Bridge over Troubled Water

"On Friday, the Federal Reserve tried to quell this panic by announcing a surprise cut in the discount rate, the rate at which it lends money to banks. It remains to be seen whether the move will do the trick.

The problem, as many observers have noticed, is that the Fed’s move is largely symbolic. It makes more funds available to depository institutions, a k a old-fashioned banks — but old-fashioned banks aren’t where the crisis is centered. And the Fed doesn’t have any clear way to deal with bank runs on institutions that aren’t called banks.

Now, sometimes symbolic gestures are enough. The Fed’s surprise quarter-point interest rate cut in October 1998, at the height of the crisis caused by the implosion of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management, was similarly a case of providing money where it wasn’t needed. Yet it helped restore calm to the markets, by conveying the sense that policy makers were on top of the situation.

Friday’s cut might do the same thing. But if it doesn’t, it’s not clear what comes next.

Whatever happens now, it’s hard to avoid the sense that the growing complexity of our financial system is making it increasingly prone to crises — crises that are beyond the ability of traditional policies to handle. Maybe we’ll make it through this crisis unscathed. But what about the next one, or the one after that?"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

GOP not the party of Lincoln, Thanks Mr. Rove

"Any prospect of a rapprochement between the G.O.P. and African-Americans died in the New Orleans Superdome. The tardy, botched immigration initiative unleashed a wave of xenophobia against Hispanics, the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country. The Muslim outreach project disappeared into the memory hole after 9/11.

Forced to pick a single symbolic episode to encapsulate the collapse of Rovian Republicanism, however, I would not choose any of those national watersheds, or even the implosion of the Iraq war, but the George Allen "macaca" moment. Its first anniversary fell, fittingly enough, on the same day last weekend that Mitt Romney bought his victory at the desultory, poorly attended G.O.P. straw poll in Iowa.

A century seems to have passed since Mr. Allen, the Virginia Republican running for re-election to the Senate, was anointed by Washington insiders as the inevitable heir to the Bush-Rove mantle: a former governor whose jus'-folks personality, the Bushian camouflage for hard-edged conservatism, would propel him to the White House. Mr. Allen's senatorial campaign and presidential future melted down overnight after he insulted a Jim Webb campaign worker, the 20-year-old son of Indian immigrants, not just by calling him a monkey but by sarcastically welcoming him "to America" and "the real world of Virginia."

This incident had resonance well beyond Virginia and Mr. Allen for several reasons. First, it crystallized the monochromatic whiteness at the dark heart of Rovian Republicanism. For all the minstrel antics at the 2000 convention, the record speaks for itself: there is not a single black Republican serving in either the House or Senate, and little representation of other minorities, either. Far from looking like America, the G.O.P. caucus, like the party's presidential field, could pass for a Rotary Club, circa 1954. Meanwhile, a new census analysis released this month finds that nonwhites now make up a majority in nearly a third of the nation's most populous counties, with Houston overtaking Los Angeles in black population and metropolitan Chicago surpassing Honolulu in Asian residents. Even small towns and rural America are exploding in Hispanic growth."

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tire tracks on Harold Ford, Jr.

When did young Mr. Ford lose his mind?

props to Brendan for this gem.

Celebrating Flyarm's 10,0000th post

Join the party, it made warm all over....

Sex and the Hypocrites

Great piece by Suburban Guerrilla:

Don’t ya think? Oh, those wacky Republicans!

In June, Tim Droogsma, a former press secretary to a US senator and a Minnesota governor, told the Star Tribune after reading its sex relationships column: “I don’t think I’m too prudish — which, I realize, is what prudes always say — but do we really want this sentence: ‘She hopped on my lap, facing forward. I pulled up her skirt in the back, slid her panties out of the way, and unzipped’?” Droogsma was arrested this week in a midafternoon prostitution sting.

Check out the rest.....

Size Matters, Again

"From Michael Gerson in the WaPost today:

"...Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. "We were founded as a reformist party," he said in our conversation this week, "not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead."

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it the "have mores" who got the huge tax cuts? And wasn't it the "little guy" who got enough for a Big Mac and fries?"

n/t to Neon Gods

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tony Snow next?

Tony Snow may be the next to leave Bush. His family can't seem to live on $168,000 and full benefits.

168K isn't what it used to be.

That's so unfortunate.

Richard Stickler, Mining Disaster

How bad must you stink, if Bush's Boy Santorum refuses to support your nomination???

To hold a key position in the administration you must be unqualified and unfit to perform the basic job duties.

How many MORE people must die because of the incompetence and malfeasance of this administration?

Props to Huntington Post.

Work it out

"Our desire to avoid letting bad actors off the hook shouldn’t prevent us from doing the right thing, both morally and in economic terms, for borrowers who were victims of the bubble.

Most of the proposals I’ve seen for dealing with the problems of subprime borrowers are of the locking-the-barn-door-after-the-horse-is-gone variety: they would curb abusive lending practices — which would have been very useful three years ago — but they wouldn’t help much now. What we need at this point is a policy to deal with the consequences of the housing bust.

Consider a borrower who can’t meet his or her mortgage payments and is facing foreclosure. In the past, as Gretchen Morgenson recently pointed out in The Times, the bank that made the loan would often have been willing to offer a workout, modifying the loan’s terms to make it affordable, because what the borrower was able to pay would be worth more to the bank than its incurring the costs of foreclosure and trying to resell the home. That would have been especially likely in the face of a depressed housing market.

Today, however, the mortgage broker who made the loan is usually, as Ms. Morgenson says, “the first link in a financial merry-go-round.” The mortgage was bundled with others and sold to investment banks, who in turn sliced and diced the claims to produce artificial assets that Moody’s or Standard & Poor’s were willing to classify as AAA. And the result is that there’s nobody to deal with.

This looks to me like a clear case for government intervention: there’s a serious market failure, and fixing that failure could greatly help thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of Americans. The federal government shouldn’t be providing bailouts, but it should be helping to arrange workouts.

And we’ve done this sort of thing before — for third-world countries, not for U.S. citizens. The Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s was brought to an end by so-called Brady deals, in which creditors were corralled into reducing the countries’ debt burdens to manageable levels. Both the debtors, who escaped the shadow of default, and the creditors, who got most of their money, benefited.

The mechanics of a domestic version would need a lot of work, from lawyers as well as financial experts. My guess is that it would involve federal agencies buying mortgages — not the securities conjured up from these mortgages, but the original loans — at a steep discount, then renegotiating the terms. But I’m happy to listen to better ideas.

The point, however, is that doing nothing isn’t the only alternative to letting the parties who got us into this mess off the hook. Say no to bailouts — but let’s help borrowers work things out."

Three More lost to the Mine

Having spent 25 years in the Risk Management business, I am not surprised by the disaster unfolding in Utah. The FIRST line item rarely to survive the pursuit of profits is safety.

The smart companies do not have to be talked into basic safety management. I listened in horror as the Ariana Huffington said in her interview on Countdown that there was not return on a companies investment for safety. She in no way was justifying this typical corporate behavior. However, she was wrong.

When an catastrophic claim occurs resulting in death or worse when the survive, companies will spend far more on these claims and increased premiums, state assessments, than the cost of implementing a basic safety program.

Our year began with a seasoned lineman who did not perform "lockout, tag out" procedure. This procedure is named after the policy and procedure. The worker is to shut off the electricity and "lock and tag" the source.

His chose not to perform this task which would have slowed him down by oh ten minutes. He is burned over sixty percent of his body.

To date we have burned through two million dollars. Unlike some employers, this client takes safety seriously.

"Safety first and last" is their mantra. Two years ago, they implemented a zero tolerance for failure to where the personal protection equipment and follow procedures. Furthermore, they empowered the safety directors to enforce the procedures.

In two years, they have seen a 25% reduction in claims. Even with the occasional catastrophic claim, 25% reduction has had an impact on their bottom line.

I have another client who had such a unsafe work environment, they could not afford purchase workers compensation insurance or satisfy the financial and SAFETY standard of self funding. The business had to close that plant putting 300 people out of work.

The data supports the fact Robert Murrary mine owner ignored the rules. He took advantage of this White House's failure to fund inspecting agencies. Or give them the authority to put this guy out of business. Murry has failed miserably to self regulate his business.

The money he used to donate to the Republican party could have been used to make a work environment, risky by its nature, safer for the people who have made him very wealthy.

The families will receive some form of indemnity benefits. Will it be enough to replace the person lost in the mine? I will leave that answer to the families.

Robert Murray should land in jail because of his REFUSAL to the best he could for his employees and community.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Work Place Epiphany

The summer is coming to a close. My insane clients, with the exception of one, are blessedly on vacation.

The staff vacation rotation has begun. Because of what we do, they rarely take week long blocks. We are so thin on staff, no one is available to pick up the slack in their work, adding to their stress. Having survived a third sale, this year things are different. They all were instructed to take a least five work days in a row. The down time is essential.

As a practice, they are strictly forbidden from taking their laptops, blackberries and cell phones with them. This year is no exception, they really need the break. I do practice what I preach.

After my daughter graduated from high school I stopped taking summer vacations. I have found that by taking my vacation in the fall, my break from work stress is longer.

With fall approaching, the budget process is looming in the horizon. I doubt there will be any major changes. I anticipate carrying my former COO, now a mentor producer, on my books. He is an overpaid buddy of the CEO. Of course, he makes more money than me. Enough said.

We will only provide for maximum 3% raises and expect more productivity while the shareholders print money.

Our division limps along without the infrastructure to service our clients. We are a pimple on the backside of this billion dollar enterprise, but keeping our servers running seems to be a major task.

Recently, my best friend ask me "Why are you more committed to this company than your boss?"

Good question.

The pool is waiting.

Hold on Boys and Girls

Like many others, I have a few bucks in my 401K. Just like a few years ago, I will ignore my statement. Any earnings have, no doubt, been wiped out.

For those who have borrowed to invest, I am anticipating a scene in Trading Places, to be replayed globally.

props to Suburban Guerrilla.

Rove's departure, the untold story

"That's why I think there might be more to Rove's decision to step down. Like the two above, it may be that Rove is stepping down for reasons other than the run of the mill political scandal. Why hasn't anyone considered the possibility that Rove literally got caught with his, or someone else's, pants down?"

I could only hope the pants belong to the Independent Democrat.

props to Booman Tribune

NBA ref pleads guilty

Here is a textbook example of a gambling addiction playing out on the world stage. Donaghy got involved with some dangerous people.

This story is far from being over. I'm not sure letting him run around before sentencing is good for him or his family.

Joys of a Global Market

"It's a kind of a panic among individual investors," said Cho Hong Rae, head of research at Korea Investment & Securities in Seoul, adding that domestic retail investors had up until Thursday generally been buying shares as they declined."

Investors the world over are running to the bathroom. Everyone was gleefully stunned when the market pierced 13K. This is the time when the phone lines are heating up. Financial planners are either holding the hands of their clients during this period, calmly advising " this is a good time to buy, remember you are in it for the long haul." Or worse, they are no where to be found.

Is this a correction or the beginning of a nightmare? Time will tell.

Self-Inflicted Terror

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Race and Justice

Booman has a great piece on the prison system....

A sign of things to come?

Even though I love the Birds, I rarely watch preseason games. The starters smartly play a few downs. The rest of the game is played by players who won't be seen again.

When David Akers misses a field goal my heart just sank. Groan.

The defense seems to continue to struggle with the run.

It's the pre-season, it's the pre-season,

Right?

Aaron has left the building

Good for Aaron. He did the right thing buy leaving Atlanta. I'm surprised that Bonds wasn't given the Sherman welcome. Atlanta still spits out his name.

There is talk of Bonds playing one more season. It is evident the Giants have had enough. What team would want him?

Buy American

When I was growing up, "buy American" was the mantra. Now that the lack of basic controls are rising to the surface on the cheap Chinese imports, Americans are looking for the American made label.

Who knows, maybe this will be the return of manufacturing jobs. If employers do the right thing and provide a living wage, create a safe workplace, there will be harmony. Everybody wins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bad toys

Wouldn't you rather buy less more expensive toys that wouldn't poison your kid? I was one of those parents whose kid's room looked like a toy store outlet. Most of the time she played with a $3 bunny she named Amy.

When products are manufactured overseas by countries that don't have the minimum safety requirements in place this in the end result.

How about we have China outsource those jobs to us?

Too Many

We are losing a war at home that far too many are aware that we are waging. The media needs to spend less time on the blonde Hollywood brats and more time on these societal ills.

But that is not as sexy.

American Dream Defined

"The trucker I met Saturday in Virginia not only believed in the American Dream, he believed he had achieved it. He owned his own truck. He owned a nice house in Texas on a lake near the Louisiana border. His brother owned five trucks.

He probably drew certain conclusions from the way I dress and talk. But if he was at all curious about what I did, he didn’t show it, or didn’t want to veer off into topics where he wasn’t in control. Instead, he talked about the things any guy would want to put at the center of his life: highways, engines, hauling, dogs and food."

Hooray for the Trucker. How many folks get to do the job they actual like, let alone love? This gentlemen defined his rendition of the American Dream and is living it everyday.

Good for him.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Woods Wins Again

He's that good..........

Justice for Janitors, Justice for US

All too often these service providers go unnoticed until their work in inadequate or not there. If you work late you encounter them. Rarely is English their first language. Why? Because they do the jobs blacks refuse to do.

What is not discussed is the labor intensive work provides low pay, no health benefits, sick or vacation time.

The CLASS of people these folks clean up after have the bank of time to take a day off to take their sick child to the doctor. This CLASS of people have a bank of PTO because they are pressured whether real or imagined not to take time away from making money for the shareholders. When they actually take time off, they are still connected with the electronic monitoring devices called blackberries, cell phones and laptops.

The janitors are more prone to sustain occupational injuries. Even though it is ILLEGAL for employers not to provide workers compensation coverage, employers rarely SPEND the money on this insurance. Furthermore, these claims go unreported for FEAR of losing their job.

The common link between these CLASSES of employees is both are afraid to take time off from their jobs. Like it or not those remaining in the middle tier have more in common with the janitorial staff than they do with the shareholders. The owners of both types of companies make money off of our/their labor.

So the next time you are wrapping up your twelve hour day, look up from your computer screen and say hello to your fellow
janitor.

THEY at least know their role.

Karl Rove leaves OZ

Now the bastard leaves, after he helped destroy the Constitution and run our Country in the ground. I am horrified to see what other damage Bush can do without his brain.

Thanks for nothing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Addicted to More

When my daughter reaches into the scrapbook of her mind, the trips to park, showing up at school events, just hanging out are the ones that bubble to the surface.

She is child of two divorced parents who made/make a decent buck. She has had some awesome vacations. Why? Well if he is taking her to the Caymans, I must counter that with a trip to Aruba.

It was my mother, who pointed out what I was doing. Mind you, she was a companion on these competitive vacations. But she was right. My daughter lumps the trip to the park in the same category as an exotic trip.

In either place, she wanted spend time with her parents. So how about less time at work chasing "more" and more time with the little people.

How dare we get annoyed with their lack of appreciation.....

Children just want our time.

Somebody wake me up from this American Dream

"Although significant, the losses won't be large enough to topple the United States' $12 trillion economy, Cagan said. "This is the turning of a business cycle," he said. "There will be some pain, but most people will be fine and most lenders will be fine."

That's little consolation to homeowners like Andrew Villaruz, a 43-year-old hospital administrator who said he refinanced into an option-ARM late last year without understanding what he was getting into. His loan balance quickly grew from $364,000 to $370,000, a shift that become even more disturbing to him as he watched more foreclosure signs go up around his Sacramento neighborhood.

Coupled with other costs lumped into the loan, Villaruz figures he lost about $25,000 by the time he found another lender willing to refinance him into a more conventional mortgage. He sheepishly acknowledged he had never heard of a negative amortization loan until he had one. He knows enough now to stay away from them.

"They might be good for people who make a lot of money, but they don't pan out for the average person," he said. "They just don't make sense.""

When it was it "those stupid not credit worthy" people, there was little registration on the compassion meter. Now that a hospital administrator didn't understand what "he was getting into," he's looking for a little understanding.

Newsflash Mr. Hospital Administrator, if you don't pay your mortgage, on time, your credit will look no different then "those subprime" people.

The disturbing part of this entire debacle is the housing market was overpriced. Too many people were building bigger home when, I'm just guessing" they reallly didn't need "that much house."

But inorder to feed in their fantasy of wealth, these people overextended themselves. I had two employees purchase homes in the past two years. One whom graduated with honors from Franklin & Marshall in business. The other a possessed a high school diploma from a rural county. Both employees put NO money down but just knew it was time to buy.

In their excitement, I asked a simple question of both "Will you have money at the end of the month?" Both were surprised by the question. It never occured to them. Their friendly mortgage broker told them it was time for them to buy a house. Neither employee had prepared a simple budget.

Every 28 year old needs to buy an overpriced four bedroom home, right?

When they signed on the dotted line they could afford the ARM monthly payments as they were trying to convince me and themselves. When the call arrived, I verified their employment income.

Now these former employees and their spouses are working two jobs now just make ends meet. So when do these spend time in their dream homes?

(Oh I forgot to mention, that when our company was preparing to be purchased for the second time in three years, we had to lay people off. Neither employee anticipated losing their jobs within sixty days of buying their homes.)

Now the Feds are dumping money into the markets so RICH people won't lose their expensive shorts in this shell game.

Home depot is having a sale on tents.....

Buy Coleman

Let's see, private equity companies are taking a breather from buying successful companies, sucking the life out them by doing the EBITA dance, shutting down divisions then selling the companies and record profits.

The collateral damage are the employees would made the company profitable in the first place. Either they are laid off and the survivors will be rewarded with more work and a 2% raise.

Here's an investment tip, buy stock in Coleman, because the folks who can't keep up with the AMR's will be living in a tent city near you.

"Those people" may look surprisingly like your college educated neighbors.

See you in September

"Surely it was a coincidence that this latest statement of official Bush administration amnesia was released on Aug. 6, the sixth anniversary of the President’s Daily Brief titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

And so the president, firm in his resolve against “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” heads toward another August break in Crawford while Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan remains determined to strike in America. No one can doubt Mr. Bush’s triumph in the P.R. war: There are more American troops than ever mired in Iraq, sent there by a fresh round of White House fictions. And the real war? The enemy that did attack us six years ago, sad to say, is likely to persist in its nasty habit of operating in the reality-based world that our president disdains."

I'm sure the soldiers stationed in Iraq would like to take the sweltering month of August off.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lack of Hope=Urban Genocide

n Camden, N.J., on a Sunday morning in June, a 24-year-old nurse’s aide was killed in a burst of gunfire as she stood talking with a friend on a street corner. She was one of four young people killed in a four-day eruption of violence in Camden.

A teenager who lives in the city tried to explain to me what it was like to have a number of friends or relatives murdered: “You don’t exactly get used to it,” he said, “but you expect it.”

"Philadelphia, across the Delaware River from Camden, is struggling with an even worse problem. As if signaling the start of an accelerated killing season, six people were murdered on the first day of summer. Philly’s homicide rate is on pace to break last year’s tally of 406.

As Senator Barack Obama said during a visit to a Chicago church last month, “From South-Central L.A., to Newark, New Jersey, there’s an epidemic of violence that is sickening the soul of this nation.”

More attention to this crisis of violence is needed, and more police resources, and more jobs, and better schools, and improved prison re-entry programs, and tighter gun controls. But more than anything else, a cultural change is needed.

The communities hardest hit are those in which too many parents have failed their children. The most effective anti-crime effort begins at home with parents (fathers, are you listening?) who raise their kids to know better than to point a gun at another human being and blow that person away for no good reason.

That’s the essential component. Without it, all other crime-fighting efforts are doomed, and thousands upon thousands of poor youngsters will continue to be denied their most basic civil right — the right to grow safely to adulthood."

I AGREE WITH MR. HERBERT!

Fifteen years ago I met a smart, spirited and sort of cute attorney. We were thirty at the time. Through happentance our paths crossed. He had just left the DA's office and was working in a tiny minority firm. Another friend was looking to diversify his Irish, Jewish firm.

The transition to this all white firm was not easy for this gentlemen with the Muslim name. Part of the problem was his world view was different. As a practice he carried a gun. He didn't think twice about it. He wore it as easy as they all wore their Brooks Brothers suits. This was very unnerving for a corporate law firm.

Eventually, the experiment ended and he started his own successful criminal defense firm. On the eve of his firm's anniversary party, we had a reflective conversation. I inquired what do you think happened at the other firm?

He gave me a big smile and said, I really did not expect to make 30 so I never really planned for life once I got there.

Wow.

I grew up in a community with OLD people. Many of my most powerful life's lessons came from my GREAT Grandparents. They lived across the street from us. They worked everyday, went to church and travelled with us to all of our events. The loved baseball. Both my brothers played and they couldn't wait for the games.

They never quite understood the field hockey I played but they were always there.

It was expected that we went to college. My grandparents saw in us opportunities they could only dream of.

When I entertained "not walking" to pick up my college diploma, my Mom dimed me out to my Grandmother. After work that day, before I got out of my car, my Grandmother summoned me. My mother stood in the doorway smirking.

My grandparents informed me how important the walking across the stage was to them. I was the first person in the family to get a college diploma and it was going to be done right.

It was a very brief directive.

The day of graduation was record cold but we froze our backsides off taking pictures in front of the school signs. My father took pictures until my grandfather told my grandmother it was time to go home. He didn't say much, but when he did, Grandmom relented.

I am so glad I had family to point out positive rituals and accomplishments. They cared enough to fuss at me. The respect was instilled early and often enough that I listened. We expected to work and live in white America. We were taught survival skills with the expectation to get an education, a good job, get married have babies, get a pension, retire, THEN die. In that order....

What we are dealing with is a generation of kids who do not expect to make their next birthday. Unless this generation is taught there is the possiblity of life past 15, the issue will solve itself. They will all be dead or shuttled into the dysfunctional criminal justice system.

The hope must begin at home.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mining disaster

My hope is the miners are found alive. After the rescue, an investigation of the owner needs to occur. Reports are emerging that his mine is not safe and he is a greedy bastard.

If it is determined that he put his people in harms way to squeeze out more profits, then he and all his bluster should land in jail.

To compound the problem, the agencies set up to protect workers rights have be woefully underfunded. Not that their were a ton of OSHA inspectors running around before Shrub was handed the first election. There are more crickets in these offices than people.

If this becomes a recovery mission, then he should be charged with murder. Those who benefited from his profits via political donations and turned a blind eye to his behavior have coal dust on their hands.

Will the real Mitt Romney stand up?

"In interviews, Romney talks easily about books by Fareed Zakaria and Rory Stewart, but in public his frame of cultural reference is mostly limited to songs like “Whistle While You Work.” (Why do the Democratic candidates pretend to be smarter than they really are, while the Republicans pretend to be dumber?)

He is also the world’s worst culture warrior. George H. W. Bush’s son could resent the coastal cultural elites, but George Romney’s son just can’t. He’s a 1950s consensus man — he asked his grandkids to call him Ike, after his hero — who is play-acting at being Pat Buchanan. He’s unable to do anger. I asked him recently who he hated, and he dodged the question.

Finally, Romney’s real passions seem sparked by issues he rarely gets to talk about. When I asked him why the G.O.P. is in such bad straits, he said it’s because the party had ceded issues like the environment, education and health care to the Democrats.

Somehow the Romney campaign seems less like an authentic conservative campaign than an outsider’s view of what a conservative campaign should be. It oversimplifies everything, and underexploits the G.O.P.’s vestigial longing for efficient administration. I suspect the Romney campaign would do even better if it let the real Mitt Romney out to play."

Let's talk about money

"The Fed normally responds to economic problems by cutting interest rates — and as of yesterday morning the futures markets put the probability of a rate cut by the Fed before the end of next month at almost 100 percent. It can also lend money to banks that are short of cash: yesterday the European Central Bank, the Fed’s trans-Atlantic counterpart, lent banks $130 billion, saying that it would provide unlimited cash if necessary, and the Fed pumped in $24 billion.

But when liquidity dries up, the normal tools of policy lose much of their effectiveness. Reducing the cost of money doesn’t do much for borrowers if nobody is willing to make loans. Ensuring that banks have plenty of cash doesn’t do much if the cash stays in the banks’ vaults.

There are other, more exotic things the Fed and, more important, the executive branch of the U.S. government could do to contain the crisis if the standard policies don’t work. But for a variety of reasons, not least the current administration’s record of incompetence, we’d really rather not go there.

Let’s hope, then, that this crisis blows over as quickly as that of 1998. But I wouldn’t count on it."

The past two weeks have been bumpy for investors. Even if you don't have skin in the game per se, you will affected indirectly, through higher prices, or inability to get credit.

Finances is the one subject, we as a society fail to discuss openly. Talk about family secrets. People live in expensive trappings but work wacky hours just to have bigger homes or the latest gadgets. How many families are living beyond their means? Their homes and crap are built upon shaking credit.

I came from a working class family. In my junior year, my school had a trip to France. I think my father would have a given up a kidney than tell me this trip was not in the budget. He was very bitter and angry about the whole thing. A simple we can't do it would have been fine. There would have been less hard feelings about the situation. I learned a lot about finances and the silly secrets.

The mortgage drama has been created, in my humble opinion, by people's failure to have a basic understanding of finances.
Budgeting and the concepts of borrowing money should be taught by schools by the eighth grade. If your folks won't talk about it the schools need to step in.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wisdom from Grrison Keillor

"Unless the bridges get blown up by helpful terrorists, making us eligible for Halliburton to come in and rebuild them, I don't imagine that much will happen. There will be an investigation and someday, when we are much older, we will learn that the bridge collapsed due to a unique set of circumstances that could not have been predicted by anybody. Nobody had sex with that woman. Everybody was doing a heckuva job.

I like the Mayo Clinic a lot and prefer it to the chiropractor down the street, but of course this is my responsibility and not the state of Minnesota's. The day when we look to big government for solutions to our transportation problems is gone. Our governor has twice vetoed a 7.5-cent increase in the state gasoline tax to pay for road and bridge repair. He believes it is dumb. So it's up to us to solve our own problems. Rochester is 88 miles away. Northwest Airlines offers seven flights daily for a roundtrip fare of about 500 bucks, or slightly more than the fare to New York. You want to visit Rochester, pay your own freight. Don't expect Minnesota to take care of you."

Missing the point

Roger Cohen misses one glaring point in his essay. Information from newspapers are the foundation for many blogs. By linking to the news items, people who don't read the papers have this information.

Bloggers are just making the "reporters" accountable for what they write or report on the air. If NY times did not provide a liberal voice for this White House maybe there would have been more questions about this fiasco.

News is no longer read on a street corner. Pamphlets are no longer a source of news. Rupurt Murdoch has finally purchased the Wall Street journal. He is more of a threat to Cohens profession then the netroots.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tainted Row

I got it...

The Hall of the Fame should have a special section called Tainted Row.

Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds will find their in to the Hall of Fame.

Hank Aaron Classy hero

"I would like to offer my congratulations to Barry Bonds on becoming baseball's career home run leader," Aaron said. "It is a great accomplishment which requires longevity and determination. Throughout the past century, the home run has held a special place in baseball, and I have been privileged to hold this record for 33 of those years.

"I move over now and offer my best wishes to Barry and his family on this historical achievement. My hope today, as it was on that April evening in 1974, is that the achievement of this record will inspire others to chase their own dreams."

Size Matters

Rep. Kucinich's has the smartest platform. If he were taller and his voice were stronger he would be leading the pack.

We are going to miss out on a bright leader because of his size. He will lose and so will the country.

What a man!

On the night the other guy made some noise in San Francisco, Phillies own Ryan Howard is slowly building some stats of his own.

Being the "runt of the litter" in his family, his power comes genetics and probably biscuits. Good for us, good for baseball.

B*NDS

*756*

props to SI

It's freakin' hot

It shouldn't be 82 degrees at 7:07am in the morning.

Too important to sweat the details

The basic CEO defense of “I was too important to worry about accounting details” would have become very popular if it had worked.

You got to love Gregory Reyes, CEO of Brocade Communications. My guess is he will look smashing in his prison garb.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ozzie " Bonds is not welcome"

"White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen completely ruled out his interest in signing Barry Bonds for 2008. "When you go out to stretch, you have to go with the ballclub," Guillen said. "When you go out for the national anthem, you have to be out for the national anthem. The rules are for 25 guys, not 24. "Maybe Barry says, 'I don't want to play for you either.' I don't want to say I'm different, but I like when we have team rules, everybody goes for it."

I am suddenly in love with Ozzie Guillen...........

Fear is the new kryptonite

"Yet the bill that passed the Senate on Friday and the House on Saturday attracted mostly Republican support. In all, only 41 House Democrats voted for it and its inclusion of new powers to force the cooperation of telecommunications firms and to tap into e-mail correspondence and telephone conversations without court approval; 181 House Democrats voted against it.

Democratic leaders said they did win agreement that the authority would be in effect for only six months, at which point it would be revisited, though the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, immediately called the law "unacceptable" and vowed to change it sooner. Vice President Dick Cheney urged Congress to make the law permanent.

The arguments behind the expanded wiretapping power - that failure to grant it would result in attacks here - were reminiscent of those Republicans aimed at Democrats during the 2002 congressional election, a contest that brought a Republican victory, and arguably helped Bush a year later to win Democratic votes authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

And Democratic memories are still fresh with attacks Bush used in 2004 against Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a presidential rival he portrayed as "weak on terror." That Bush would succeed this month - and on a program as controversial as the eavesdropping carried out by the National Security Agency - was somewhat surprising, given that the White House has seen its credibility on war and terrorism perceptibly erode this year.

In recounting the weekend showdown Monday, Democrats said they believed they had an agreement with McConnell on a narrow set of provisions that could address gaps in the surveillance law. But they said McConnell had pushed for broader presidential authority than they were ready to grant. "We acceded to them and said, 'If this is the bar, we'll do it,' " said Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. But, he said, "then they would come back and say, 'That's not enough.' "

When Bush has no other card to play, he whips out the fear card. The Dems fall hard like Superman being exposed to kryptonite.

This is no way to run a country.

Web disclosures double edge sword

""And P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters gleefully posits that comments apparently posted by Tamm on liberal Web sites may have led to his unmasking. He writes:

If it turns out that Thomas M. Tamm is the FISA leaker, then a good case could be made that … postings on the Web might have been his undoing. Ironically this would not be the first time a high government official illegally releasing top secret information revealed himself via web postings. Robert Hannsen, the F.B.I. agent convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union and Russia, raised suspicions about himself when he posted explicit information about his sex life on Internet chat rooms. Perhaps this FISA leak case will be the second time that Web postings would have been the undoing of a government official illegally releasing top secret information.

Speculation, to be sure. But as all of us who ply a trade on the Web know, even if the keyboard is mightier than the sword, it still cuts both ways."

Summertime Blues

"In the late 19th century, parents sometimes named their kids after prestigious jobs, like King, Lawyer, Author and Admiral. Now, children are more likely to bear the names of obsolete proletarian professions, Cooper, Carter, Tyler and Mason.

Wattenberg uses her blog to raise vital questions, such as should you give your child an unusual name that is Googleable, or a conventional one that is harder to track? But what’s most striking is the sheer variability of the trends she describes.

Naming fashion doesn’t just move a little. It swings back and forth. People who haven’t spent a nanosecond thinking about the letter K get swept up in a social contagion and suddenly they’ve got a Keisha and a Kody. They may think they’re making an individual statement, but in fact their choices are shaped by the networks around them.

Furthermore, if you just looked at names, you would conclude that American culture once had a definable core — signified by all those Anglo names like Mary, Robert, John and William. But over the past few decades, that Anglo core is harder to find. In the world of niche naming, there is no clearly identifiable mainstream.

For the past few decades, the White House has been occupied by George, William, George, Ronald, James and Richard. Those pillars are crumbling. Pluralism is here."


Its August, those who can are on holiday. Based on this column, Brooks is phoning it in.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Now I have to cheer for A-Rod

Much to my dismay, now I have to cheer for A-Rod. Until injuries crippled Ken Griffey, Jr.'s career, he seemed to be the heir apparent in the HR chase, then came Bondso....

If A-Rod keeps his head out of his game and manages to stay healthy, he should surpass Bondso during his career. Today is a sad day in Baseball.

No one died in Watergate

"No one died in Watergate. This time around, the White House lying and cover-ups have been not just in the service of political thuggery but to gin up a gratuitous war without end."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wasted Farm Aid

"The average American family pays $320 a year in farm subsidies, through higher taxes and food prices, according to a recent study by the Heritage Foundation. And those subsidies, particularly for cotton, exacerbate poverty in Africa by depressing prices of crops raised by small African farmers.

There is a familiar trajectory when a political party takes power. At first, it brims with ideals. Then it makes compromises to stay in power. Finally, it becomes devoted simply to staying in office. Can Ms. Pelosi really have compressed this downward spiral into just six months?

President Bush had sought to place a ceiling on payments to any farmer of $200,000 per year, but the Democratic leaders have set it at $1 million ($2 million for a couple). Any time the Democrats find themselves fighting on behalf of fat cats, against a Republican White House that says enough is enough, it’s time for the donkey to kick itself in the head."

You can't make it up.

Spouses need not apply

When you apply for a job, does your spouse interview with you? I have grown so bored of the spousal drama surrounding elections. The politicians generally throw fire on to this political cooking grease.

Guiliani and his current spouse seem to have gone down the "two for one" road. I really do not care what "this spouse" has to say about anything. With his record, she probably won't survive the campaign.

With that being said, sane people should keep their spouses out of the mix unless they plan on having their record scrutinized like any other tax paid employee.

Shame of a Nation

There will be an investigation. If it is determined officials knew about the problems, then someone should go to jail. Bridges should not collapse in this country.

Too often, "those people" complain about too much government. The problem is poorly managed, incompetence and fraudulent government.

When I pay my taxes, I want my dollars to be invested is an sound infrastructure. In the meantime, my prayers go out to those families involved in this nightmare.