Friday, December 30, 2011

Down Goes Claude

Millionaire developer Claude de Botton loses his appeal in his effort to block rival BPG from developing it's town center project in Newtown Square. He was supposed to be paying $1.2 million a month in escrow to carry on his "frivolous" appeal but that was stayed months ago.

Whether that's back on was unclear from the court ruling.

Here's the background.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Viva Senna

I am not a car racing fan but this was very good.

Conlin Continued

In an otherwise, OK column about the Bill Conlin controversy/tragedy, Rich Hofmann makes the mistake of writing the following two paragraphs:
The other day, a stranger shouted from two cars over in a convenience-store parking lot: "Did any of you guys know?" He asked it innocently enough, not maliciously, but the man had no idea how insulting the question was. That is where we are, though. You spend Christmas telling family and friends you were as shocked as everyone else, and then you shrug a lot.
Two or three people emailed, wondering when I was going to write a column about Conlin to compare with the ones I wrote about the Jerry Sandusky situation at Penn State. I did not answer them, even though I do have an answer. The Penn State issue was not centered on the allegations of evil, but the way the athletic program dealt with the allegations. Conlin's case is different, because there is no suggestion of a coverup and because his connection to sports is just the accident of his employment. That is the answer, but it would not satisfy a lot of people.
Well, he's got the last part right.

First of all, the question asked by the stranger, despite Hofmann's sensitivity towards it, is a perfectly fair and reasonable question.

It is the sort of question journalists ask as a matter of routine when something awful happens. Some guy does something terrible and we go to his family, friends, and fellow employees -- in short, anyone who knew him, and ask "What was he like?" "Did this surprise you? "Did you have any suspicions he might do something like this."

Where's the insult? This is what we do. We ask questions. Why should we be surprised or insulted in being asked when we're the ones who happen to know - or at least be associated with - the person involved? And, of course, Hofmann can only speak for himself about what he "knows" about Conlin. He doesn't know what anybody else at the paper "knew" or suspected or heard rumors about.

As for the differences between the Conlin story and the Sandusky situation, Hofmann has a point. But only a small one. There was, after all, a cover-up in Conlin's case. It was engaged in, at the very least, by Conlin (if he is guilty), his alleged victims and their families.

Whether anyone at the Daily News or the Inquirer ever heard rumors of Conlin's alleged proclivity toward children, is still an open question. No one has come forward to say so. Most all of the allegations again him go back 30-40 years. My father and stepmom worked with Conlin decades ago. My dad's gone but I asked her about Conlin. She wasn't insulted.

As for the alleged "cover-up" at Penn State, that remains an allegation, not a proven fact. Two administrators are charged with lying to a grand jury and failing to report an incident that was reported to them. How it was reported to them - how it was described - remains very much a bone of contention. Personally, I'll be shocked if they are found guilty based on the word Mike "I did the right thing" McQueary.

But the sports media has hardly distinguished with it's lynch-mob approach to the scandal. These administrators knew Jerry Sandusky was a monster and they covered it up to protect the Penn State brand. That has been the working assumption of dozens, maybe hundreds, of column writers and journalists. Heads, including Joe Paterno's, were called for within hours of the release of the grand jury report. And they were delivered by a shocked and panic-stricken board of trustees. (Based on what I read, I too thought Paterno had to go. But the more times I read the grand jury report, the more questions I had about who was told what, when and by whom.)

I don't know Rich Hofmann but I remember meeting him once. If I remember it correctly it was at a going away party for a former Daily Times sports editor. He struck me as a good guy, a decent guy. And I think his column about Conlin is full of decency. And so was Bob Ford's column on the subject.

Ford knew Conlin better than Hofmann, but not, of course, about his alleged history of sticking his fingers in children.

As he wrote:
I don't know the Bill Conlin who was described in The Inquirer as an alleged serial molester of young children, but I know too much now about the crime and the secrecy that goes along with it to disbelieve with any certainty he exists. 
I never met that man, but I have known for 30 years the bombastic, funny, ridiculously talented Philadelphia Daily News sportswriter who I thought was Bill Conlin. I have worked with him, traveled with him, drunk with him, played tennis with him, and stood under a thousand spring training suns talking mostly about baseball but eventually about everything else. Everything but this.
Well, certainly not everything. We all have our secrets. Some are darker than others. And some are so dark we barely admit them to ourselves.

Familiarity breeds contempt. But it also breeds compassion and decency and sadness when a friend is disgraced.

But a lot of the stuff written about the Penn State case hasn't been decent. A lot of it has been lousy with conclusion-jumping, bad-faith assumptions and sanctimony. Hofmann's stuff on the subject has been better and fairer than most. Still, he was part of the media herd that jumped to the same conclusions about Paterno's "guilt" and that of the other administration officials based on the word of Mike McQueary, a man whose credibility has since been thoroughly compromised.

If the allegations again Sandusky are true, he was an ongoing monster; a man who fed his sexual appetite for young boys by creating a charity to mentor - or rather to "groom" - them.

Conlin, on the other hand, if guilty, appears to have gone through a phase. When his access to children (mostly family members) diminished so did his crimes.

His alleged crimes are old, which makes this all the more tragic for him. He must've thought he'd outrun his demons only to have them catch up to him so late in life. Satchel Paige was right.

And so too, I bet, is Ford. The Conlin he knew wasn't the Conlin who violated those children. But still he had to live with the memory of that other self. It was a self he helped suppress with the persona of a bombastic "I'm-smarter-than-you" know-it-all. And thanks to the silence of others, he succeeded for years.

He didn't want to look back. But something was gaining on him.

Why Violent Crime is Down

Charles Murray explains this graph:

... and he sez: "Keep locking 'em up."

(Note to my friend Bob: Murray is a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. But the graph comes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Which is to say Lynn Cheney had nothing to do with it.)

Barry in a Bubble

The president doesn't like to "schmooze." Plus, he misses Reggie. The New York Times has the story.

Graph Infection

Economic charts that might surprise you, brought to you by the American Enterprise Institute. For instance... Income inequality hasn't exploded in the last couple of decades.

Check out the rest of them too. A couple are kind of, well, scary.

Hewitt vs. Williamson

Having linked to Kevin Williamson's piece on the relationship between Wall Street and Washington the other day, I found this conversation between Hugh Hewitt and Williamson quite interesting.

I think Hewitt gets the better of it. You decide.

Wanted: Fat Bastard Jr.

Wanted: Michael Goodwater - 6-foot, 350 pounds - for strong arm robbery of an 86-year-old man who got a little lucky a Harrah's casino in Chester.

May be found in the company of his father...

Approach with caution.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Green Energy Bombs

(Posted By Dannytheman)

Prospects Darken for Solar

Plug your electric car into any panel you want!  Then wait for a sunny week.

H/T to Glenn Foden

The Democrats Rule Ends Soon

(Posted by Dannytheman)

Barney Frank is stepping down from the House, but the bigger story is 8 more Democrats are following him out the door!
These Democrats are all senior level veterans of the House or Senate. Turmoil is happening and I think it bodes poorly on President Obama's possible reelection chances. I think the Democrats see the writing on the wall, they will not win the House, and stand a great chance of losing the Senate in an old fashion whooping!! Someone asked me what poll I was quoting on another story written earlier. While I couldn't dig up that daily poll, I offer this as further proof of the major pendulum swing coming in 2012!

More details.

Boycott Sunoco

I thought something like this would be coming:
Earlier this month, council voted 7-0 to cease using Sunoco oil to fuel borough vehicles and is calling on all residents and officials from Delaware County school districts, county and municipalities to discontinue using Sunoco or ConocoPhillips gasoline to fuel their vehicles or frequenting the company’s mini-marts. 
“I don’t think we should patronize two companies that are going to devastate the Delaware County economy,” Sharon Hill Councilman Scott MacNeil said. “People need to understand how devastating it’s going to be when these refineries close.”
I'm all for it.

The White House Repo'ed

Former editor of the Main Line Times, Kevin Williamson, get off a good shot on the relationship between Wall Street and Washington:
In a world of $600,000 cars (consult your local Maybach dealer) and $4,300-a-night whores (consult Eliot Spitzer), it’s no big deal to buy a president, which is precisely what Wall Street did in 2008 when, led by investment giant Goldman Sachs, it closed the deal on Barack Obama.

Our Patriotic President vs. An Unpatriotic One

File under: Hope, Change, Hypocrisy.

UPDATE: Happy Holidays

Spencerblog vs. Editorial Board

Two views on the new driving laws meant to make Pennsylvania safer: Ours and Mine.

From Ours:
It’s a scene that’s been replayed, too many times, all too often here in Delaware County. A group of teenagers. A speeding car. A horrible accident. Multiple fatalities.
They’re tragedies that sear the soul of the community every time they happen. Adults despair. Teens grieve deeply and slow down the car – for a while, anyway.
And everyone wonders why, and if anything can be done to prevent another tragedy in the future.
There are no certainties in life. But the Pennsylvania Legislature, which does so many things wrong, did something right this year. It approved a package of new restrictions on teenage drivers that set passenger limitations, seat belt requirements and mandates more driver education.
From Mine:
In 1999, a Johns Hopkins University study noticed that school districts that dumped their drivers’ ed programs (mostly for reasons of cost) saw a 27 percent decrease in car accidents among teen drivers.
How is that possible? Simple. Driver’s ed only really teaches kids how to handle a car, not how to drive responsibly.
Ten years later, even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration caught on.
“Despite widespread appeal of driver education, scientific evaluations indicate that it does not produce safer drivers,” said the NHTSA in a 2009 report.
With teens, the problem isn’t their driving skills — it’s their not-yet-formed decision-making ability. The frontal lobe of the average teenager’s brain is still in the process of being formed and nothing in the new law speeds that up.
The state is now requiring the extra 15 hours of driver’s training to be split between night driving and in bad weather. It would be more effective to require teen drivers to read a book or practice a musical instrument (though not while driving). Both are known to improve brain function.
UPDATE: My source on the teen brain function: NPR

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Greetings from The Minority Leader?

This hateful and, I suspect, doctored Christmas card comes to you care of Moonbattery. I always thought Nancy Pelosi's head was too big for her body. But not THIS big!

Best Science Stories 2011

Check out the Top 10 Science Stories for 2011. Strangely, the faster-than-light neutrinos story came in at number 7.  There's a reason for that.

UPDATE: Science magazine's "Breakthrough of the Year" goes to AIDS research:
HIV/AIDS researchers have long debated whether antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) used to treat HIV-infected people might have a double benefit and cut transmission rates. To some it was obvious: ARVs reduce HIV levels, so individuals should be less infectious. Skeptics contended that this was unproven. Then in May of this year, the 052 clinical trial conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) reported that ARVs reduced the risk of heterosexual transmission by 96%. Because of HPTN 052's profound implications for the future response to the AIDS epidemic, Science has chosen it as its Breakthrough of the Year.
If this pans out the Milton Hershey School will be able to rethink having that an HIV positive student on campus.

Working Overtime on Pension Padding in Philly

Police overtime in Philly is being abused. Pensions are being padded. Good thing nothing like that could happen in Delco.

Legislating While Driving

Typically, Spencerblog is skeptical of new laws meant to make driving safer. Either the penalties aren't severe enough to affect behavior or the targeted class isn't that dangerous to begin with.

Today new restrictions and penalties go into effect on teen drivers. For the most part I see these efforts as state legislators responding to specific tragedies and parent lobbies.

You want to get serious about cutting down the number of traffic fatalities? Outlaw left turns. And raise the driving age to 30. That would do it. Until then all this is just busy work for busybodies.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bill Conlin: Giving Pompous Asshats a Bad Name

The more I read about this particular accused child-molester, the more I think the above headline is right on.

At least Jerry Sandusky seemed like a nice guy.

UPDATE: From Conlin's emails to A.J. Daulerio at Deadspin right before the story broke...
... I am a lot bigger to the Daily News than Sandusky ever was to Penn State. But I don't have 19 years of heinous molestations involving children in my care that were covered up at many institutional levels. My daughter used to babysit Carlton's and McCarver's kids in spring training. Kalas' kids and my sons are still close. They were home-schooled by the same spring training tutor. 
          Me to Conlin (10:50 p.m.): So you don't want it out there before the grave, newspaper
          version hits.
Conlin to me (11:10 p.m.): No, because that makes it a transparent move to cover my ass and which could be construed as a tactical plea bargain. In either case, I will have no choice but to either retire or resign from the Daily News. My "old, red, eyes," as you described them in your generous piece in PhillyMag, have seen more than enough. I will be 78 in May and should have fucking retired 12 years ago. But because I continued to attract more readers on average than any writer on either paper they gave me a sweetheart deal I could not refuse. But I make enough in pension and SS to walk on my salary to retire comfortably. I just do not wish to exit with an undeserved "P" on my chest. If the piece this beatch writes paints me as a Jekyll-Hyde without identifying the "accusers," their names need to be out there next to mine—since they bought houses from my wife, drank my vodka the night of her viewing and decided after 40 years it was Sandusky Time to come out.
See what I mean.

We're Number One!

The United States leads the world in charitable giving.
According to the study, the United States is only the 10th most generous nation globally in monetary terms, but combined with high rankings in other areas such as volunteering (5th) and helping strangers (2nd) the total score put the US at the top in terms of overall generosity. Last year the US was ranked number 5, worldwide.
Behind the US, the most generous nation overall in 2011 were (in order) Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Laos. Meanwhile, the country ranked as the least charitable nation on earth is Madagascar.
When you beat out North Korea and Burma for last place, that's saying something.

UPDATE: More proof right here.

Buy This Magazine Or We'll Put Clothes On This Girl

News item:
Lohan ‘Playboy’ cover flying off shelves
Yeah, but are people taking the rest of the magazine with it?

It's Take Away Time

Robert Samuelson warns that time is running out on our elected leaders to come to grips with our looming fiscal crisis.
WASHINGTON -- There are moments when our political system, whose essential job is to mediate conflicts in broadly acceptable and desirable ways, is simply not up to the task. It fails. This may be one of those moments. What we learned in 2011 is that the frustrating and confusing budget debate may never reach a workable conclusion. It may continue indefinitely until it's abruptly ended by a severe economic or financial crisis that wrenches control from elected leaders. 
We are shifting from "give away politics" to "take away politics." Since World War II, presidents and Congresses have been in the enviable position of distributing more benefits to more people without requiring ever-steeper taxes. Now, this governing formula no longer works, and politicians face the opposite: taking away -- reducing benefits or raising taxes significantly -- to prevent government deficits from destabilizing the economy. It is not clear that either Democrats or Republicans can navigate the change.
Which is to say that the 12 percent of Americans who "approve" of congress are woefully ignorant.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I Think I Hear It

A Christmas Story

So before 9 a.m. this morning I am on my way to pick up Jake Spencer for Christmas breakfast. The traffic was light but driving down Route 352 through Middletown I spotted a Media police car coming the other way at a pretty good clip. I immediately thought that it was too bad that on Christmas morning there was an emergency that required police attention. But as the car sped by I noticed the driver was wearing a Santa's hat. I took that to be a pretty good sign that whatever the emergency was it involved something Christmasy.

I called Mrs. Spencerblog to tell her about what I'd just seen and it put her in mind of something she herself had witnessed an hour earlier.

She'd gotten up early to take a client's dogs for a Christmas morning walk. In the woods she looked up to find a hawk looking down at her from a tree. They exchanged eye contact and a moment later the hawk took off.

"He was carrying a squirrel in his talon as he flew away," my wife said. "Ewwww!"

 "That's a nice story," I replied. "Was the squirrel wearing a Santa's hat?"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Paddy Cats

It's only got 12.9 million views.

H/t undercover corporate titan

Friday Funny

The 4th Best or 1st worst?

(Posted by Dannytheman)

The 4th Best of All Time?!!?  

The Conlin Con

The child molestation wave crashes on our doorstep. My print column is up.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Buzz Bissinger's Failure of Critical Thinking Skills

Journalist Buzz Bissinger has weighed in on the Bill Conlin molestation story at the Daily Beast. He ends it thusly:
"Conlin leaves behind a body of work, just like former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno leaves behind a body of work. But they both add up to the exact same thing now:
Bissinger has been just one more member of the media lynch mob out to hang Paterno for his failure to do more to bring Jerry Sandusky to justice. But this is beyond the pale.

Comparing Paterno's alleged failure to report (which is false on it's face) to Conlin's alleged sexual abuse of children is beyond unfair. It's ludicrous. 

Bissinger might as well be trashing the families of Conlin's alleged victims for failing to go to the police years ago.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Columnist Bill Conlin Accused of Molesting Children

Ugh. Here's the story.

UPDATE: From USA Today:
On Nov. 11, Conlin wrote a column about the Sandusky case. Conlin essentially scoffed at people who said they would have intervened in the incident where Sandusky has been alleged to have raped a boy in a Penn State locker room.
Wrote Conlin: "Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own ass on the line before or after the fact. But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions."
If the allegations against Conlin are true he sure benefitted from a number of people who chose not to do the right thing at the time. I've said it before and I'll say it again, anyone who witnesses a child being raped or otherwise molested and doesn't do anything to stop it, is beneath contempt. Period. Full stop.

As for those at PMN who went on record saying Penn State should have cancelled its next game in the wake of the allegations against Sandusky, I don't suppose they will demanding their newspapers cease publication until after Christmas. Neither do I expect Conlin's immediate bosses to fired because they "had to know" what he allegedly did 40 years ago.

UPDATE: Here's the text of Conlin's brief piece:
People who say they would have pounded the snot out of Jerry Sandusky had they been alerted by the alleged shower-room assault will remember Kitty Genovese . . . Everybody says he will do the right thing, get involved, put his own ass on the line before or after the fact. But the moment itself has a cruel way of suspending our fearless intentions. Suspended fearless intentions was the fate that befell a pretty, 105-pound, young New York woman named Kitty Genovese, whose walk home from work through her Kew Gardens neighborhood was ended on March 13, 1964, by a serial killer named Winston Moseley. He picked her out at random and stabbed her to death in front of her apartment building during a horrific assault that lasted nearly a half-hour and took place at three locations outside the sprawling building. As many as 38 residents heard all or part of her shrieking, pleading attempt to ward off a man who stabbed her multiple times. Only one of them called police and that was after calling a friend for advice on what to do. None made any attempt to intervene. Some thought it was a domestic dispute and didn't want to interfere.
Conlin's defense of McQueary's behavior and his snide assertion about those who judge him has a number of problems. McQueary wasn't "alerted" to anything. He claimed to have personally watched the attack as it was happening.

And how does anyone get involved "before" the fact? If McQueary saw what he says he saw he should have gotten "involved" DURING the attack and ended it. There was, after all, no mistaking it for a "domestic dispute."

As for Conlin's alleged behavior, it won't be prosecuted. For the sake of his victims he would do well to admit his crimes - if he committed them - and continue to beg for their forgiveness. But that's between him and them.

Future Ex-FedEX Employee

Hey, look. Somebody sent me a computer monitor for Christmas. That's awesome... hey, hey, HEY! Oh, Nooooooo!

Next time, I'll see what Brown can do for me.

A Christmas Card to Obama from Syria

They're on their own. And so are the Iraqis.

Poll: Build, Baby, Build!

A new Rasmussen poll finds that 60 percent of the American people want to see construction started on the Keystone Pipeline out of Canada. But in related news 61 percent believe that global warming is a "serious problem."

The overlapping views are hardly contradictory. You can be concerned about global warming and still recognize the need for oil to be imported from a friendly, fellow North American country.

In fact, while 60 percent of American express concerns about off-shore oil drilling, 75 percent believe we are not doing enough develop our own oil and gas resources. The trick is to do all these things responsibly with the understanding that these industries provide good jobs with good pay. In these times, jobs should be our number one priority.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little Holiday Mayhem

I remember this guy from grade school.

Here he is again...

Crying In Their Beer

Beer distributors complain about the LCB reform bill. It will cut their monopoly on selling beer by the case but will allow them to sell wine too. They don't like the trade off. Consumers however benefit by being able to buy beer in dozens of more places.

Faster please.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Defense of Mike McQueary

I went to Harrisburg last week, specifically to hear the testimony of Mike McQueary about what he saw and what he did the night of March 1, 2002 and what he did after that.

Based on his own testimony, McQueary watched a young boy being raped by Jerry Sandusky and did nothing to stop it, other than to establish eye contact with the victim and the rapist. He then left the locker room, leaving the boy in the custody of the man who'd he just seen assauting him.

What I think and how I feel about that, I believe I have made quite clear. I hope I did so again in today's print column.

I subsequently found a provocative column by former Inquirer columnist Tom Ferrick, "In Defense of Mike McQueary."

Let's go through it. Ferrick writes:
Am I the only person in America who is not surprised or outraged by how Penn State assistant Mike McQueary reacted after he witnessed Jerry Sandusky allegedly raping a 10-year-old boy in the showers at the school in the now notorious 2002 incident?

Apparently I am, judging from the vitriol hurled at McQueary. His name may become synonymous with coward, as in he "He pulled a McQueary," and certainly to Penn State fanatics he will be forever seen as a Benedict Arnold for bringing down Joe Paterno.
Let's stop right here. The vitriol being hurled at McQueary is not being thrown for his bringing down Joe Paterno. It's being thrown because he left a 10-year-old boy in the hands of a rapist. Instead of helping him, he fled. That is what has so many people expressing contempt for McQueary.

Read more »

Friday, December 16, 2011


Gary Schultz and Tim Curley are held over on perjury charges by District Justice Bill Wenner.
Despite excellent legal arguments from both defense attorneys about what the law requires for a perjury charge, the prosecution had a very low burden to meet and it met it...

A Break in the Action

After three hours of testimony, almost two from state's star witness - Mike McQueary - the prosecution rested it's prima facie case to hold former Penn Staters Tim Curley and Gary Schultz for trial on perjury charges.

McQueary presented himself forthrightly and definitively about what he saw the night of March 1, 2002, Jerry Sandusky in the shower, with the boy. The running shower water, and rhythmic slapping noises he heard upon entering the locker room that night alerted him immediately that something very wrong. He said he started to visualize in his head what was going on before he actually saw it.

He essentially repeated, though not word for word, what the grand jury reported he said he saw: A boy with with his hands up against the shower wall, Jerry Sandusky standing behind and bumping up against him. He presumed the boy was being penetrated but could actually see if that was happening.

McQueary was less definitive about how he described what he saw to Coach Joe Paterno and others the next morning but said he left the indelible impression that what he saw was "extremely sexual" "that it was wrong and over the line."

But he never used the terms "anal intercourse," "sexual assault," or "rape" or even the word "crime" to describe what he saw. And never would have with Joe Paterno "out of respect" for the old coach.

Read more »

Another School Administration Out of Touch

(Posted by Dannytheman)

This time is from Smyrna, Tennessee.  A 10 year old boy is disciplined and forced to sit at the "Silent Table"?

        "School leaders say the 10-year-old threatened other students at his lunch table with a piece of pizza with bites out of it so it looked like a gun and when asked about it was initially not truthful."
Taylor said the school system has made it clear that if her son eats his pizza into the shape of a gun again and there is a similar occurrence, he will be suspended."

Emphasis in the above mine. Read the entire story and tell me how supposedly educated people in the school administration can get to where they are from a piece of pizza.

In a follow up to this debacle in North Carolina, the Principal of the school was fired. So the School Board was smarter than the Principal!

Cross Examination of McQueary

Under questioing from Caroline Roberto, McQueary sticks by his story. Prosecutors object to her attempts to find out what he told a friend of the family who was called to his father's home that night. And that was sustained.

Some of the questioning:

Walking in the door to the locker room... that night. Roberto asks about what he heard.
A. I heard the showers running and the slapping.

Q. You didn't hear any voices.
A. No voices at all.

Q. At that locker what did you hear.
A. Made a mental note of the slapping. Visualizations come to your head. I was embarrassed I didn't want to be hear it.

Q. Did you let any of the people in the show know you were there.
A. What exactly did you see?

McQueary repeats what he said during direct.

Q. Did you see any expression?
A. I couldn't see their faces.

Q. You were shocked were you not. Did you think of saying - 'Hey I'm here. It's Mike McQueary'
Did you do anything. You did nothing.
A. That's right I did nothing.

Read more »

Live from Dauphin County Courthouse...

The courtroom is packed. And we're ready to go. All we need are the defendants, their lawyers, and the judge.

UPDATE: Gary Schultz and Tim Curley just came in with their lawyers, Tom Farrell and Caroline Roberto.

UPDATE: We're getting our instructions on how to behave from a sherriff's deputy. I forget to silence my cell phone. . Good thing he reminded us. That could have been very embarrassing.

UPDATE: Here comes the judge... William Wenner

UPDATE: And here comes Mike McQueary the Commonwealth's first witness. Dark suit, blue tie. Nice tie. Quietly he agrees to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

UPDATE: AG Dep. Bruce Beemer is taking McQueary through his background. Penn State grad. Football player. Grad assistant.

UPDATE: McQueary describes the Lasch Building, and how it houses the whole Penn State football program. Beemer asked about March 1 2002.

He was home watching a football movie and was motivated to do some work, watch some football films and put his new sneakers in his locker.

Drove 8 minutes to the Lasch building. Parked car, went to the support staff lockerroom.

Q. Do the locker rooms include shower facilites.
A. Yes...

Q. What did you do when you entered the lockerroom. Describe what happend

A. When I opened that first door, I heard rythmic slaps. Skin on skin. Embarrassed. I was on alert. I turned my locker immediately to the right. I looked over my right shoulder into the mirrors and from a 45 degree angle you can see right into the showers.

UPDATE: Beemer is asking about him knowing Jerry Sandusky.

Describe what transpired.

A. Saw Jerry with a boy in the shower. Directly behind the boy. And very hurriedly and in hastened state and shocked, and then stepped to the right of my locker to make sure I saw what I think I saw with my own eyes.

Q. Describe

Read more »

It's McQueary Time

I'm just back from the Dauphin County municipal building where I had to get my press credentials for today's preliminary hearing of ex-Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz on perjury charges.

I drove over to Harrisburg last night to make sure I got a seat.

Talked to Jim Koval, head of communications for the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts. He and his team were on duty at 5 a.m. Koval said they all started work at 4 a.m for the Sandusky hearing in Bellefonte, only to have the hearing waived by Sandusky's lawyer.

Everyone is anticipating the appearance of star witnesses Penn State Assistant Football Coach Mike McQueary, the man who, according to the grand jury, was an eye-witness to Jerry Sandusky annally raping a boy in a Penn State shower room.

Koval told me a few minutes ago that it's conceivable that prosecutors won't put him, or any other witnesses, on. That they'll just present the grand jury report and hope District Justice Bill Wenner, holds Curley and Schultz for trial.

I predict that If Wenner goes for that, there'll be a media riot in the courtroom, 'cause I'll be leading it. (Jus' kidding.)

Read more »

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Take Away the Zeros

Just got this from a reader who sez:

This rather brilliantly cuts thru all the political doublespeak we get. It puts it into a much better perspective and is the same for many countries in Europe ...

Why the U.S. was downgraded:

* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:

* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts: $385

Got It ?????

OK now Lesson # 2:

Here's another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let's say, You come home from work and find there has been a sewer
backup in your neighborhood....and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ......

Raise the ceilings, or pump out the s--t?

Your choice is coming Nov. 2012
Take away the zeros and the crap and you wouldn't have enough politicians to run... hey, wait a minute...

A Bain and the Ass

George Will lambastes Newt Gingrich for silly claim that Mitt Romney ought to return all the money he made at Bain Capital:
Romney, while at Bain, performed the essential social function of connecting investment resources with opportunities. Firms such as Bain are indispensable for wealth creation, which often involves taking over badly run companies, shedding dead weight and thereby liberating remaining elements that add value. The process, like surgery, can be lifesaving. And like surgery, society would rather benefit from it than watch it.
Politicians, of a certain sort, would rather demogogue it.

UPDATE: Expect this old photo of Romney (that's him in the center) to be used against him should he win the GOP nomination. (Or sooner.) Unless they can find a better one, say, of him spitting on an unemployed factory worker in a bread line.

Anyone want to bet $10,000?


Gee, I almost forgot about this.
Upper Darby police close probe into death of man found wearing scuba suit in attic
It was an embarrassing accident. Kind of like shooting yourself with your own speargun. Bad way to go. May he rest in peace.

MSNBC Smears Romney as Klansman; Sez It's Sorry, "Really"

Some nitwit named Tom Roberts at MSNBC claimed this ad by Romney campaign has revealed his secret status as a Klansman. He picked the idea up from a left-wing blog and said
“So you may not hear Mitt Romney say ‘Keep America American’ anymore. That’s because it was a central theme of the KKK in the 1920s, it was a rallying cry for the group’s campaign of violence and intimidation against blacks, gays and Jews. The progressive blog AmericaBlog was the first to catch on to that.”
First of all, Romney doesn't say "Keep America American." He says "Keep America America." Listen to the ad it comes across as maybe the direct opposite of a rallying cry for violence against anyone, except maybe terrorists, and foreign dictators.

NBC has apologized to the Romney campaign, even Al Sharpton said it was wrong (though he said it self-servingly).

Here's the ad, you be the judge.

And here's the question: Does Tom Roberts still have a job with MSNBC after his attempted "smear"?

UPDATE: Spencerblog says getting called a Klansman by a MSNBC can only help Romney. It's like an Occupy Wall Street protester calling a Starbucks clerk a fascist for having a job. It demeans the protester and elevates the clerk.

UPDATE II: At the request of our friend Bob, here's Matthews apology.

Pat Meehan (R-Oil Spill)

Delco Dem Dave Landau gets it right when he declared the newly redesigned 7th Congressional District more resembles an "oil spill" than what a congressional district is supposed to look like. It spreads the district out over five counties.
"In the end, it means the people in Delco won’t have the clout they did with the congressman,” said Landau. “The Republicans should be blamed. They are scared to death of the Democrats in Delaware County — that they could run and beat Patrick Meehan.”
Delaware County GOP Chairman Andrew Reilly accused Landau of “playing politics” with his comments. Spencerblog is shocked, SHOCKED! that politics might have something to do with all this gerrymandering. But it is hardly the Delco GOP's fault. As Reilly explains.
“I am disappointed in the new 7th Congressional District and would prefer as much of Delaware County to stay intact as possible with any needed spillover to adjacent Chester County,” Reilly said. “This new district is the result of our district being pinched between more senior Philadelphia congressmen who need to expand into Delaware County to pick up population and more senior Chester County congressmen who are reluctant to yield territory.”
While the state Democratic party whines, most incumbent Democrats have to be quite happy with new map. It protects their seats quite nicely, even if it remains an insult to democracy, not to mention geography.

Somebody get a boom before innocent wildlife are mired in this goo.

UPDATE: Pennsylvania get Sean Trende's vote for "Gerrymander of the Decade."
Republicans in Pennsylvania, however, took a state that is two or three points more Democratic than the country as a whole, and created 12 districts (out of 18) that are more Republican than the country as a whole. They did so by creating what can only be called a group of Rorschach-inkblot districts in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The net result is a map that shores up their vulnerable incumbents, and that may well result in a 14-4 Republican edge by the end of the decade.
Way to go, boys. Shame, in politics, is reserved for losers and minorities.

UPDATE: Of course, I meant political minorities.

"Where do jobs come from, Mommy?"

A Random Thought from Frank J.:
Democrats understand how jobs are created about as well as a four-year-old understands where babies come from.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

From the Preliminary Hearing Nazi: "No Scoop For You!"

The stage was set, the actors were all there and so, of course, was the media.

The preliminary hearing of Jerry Sandusky in sleepy little Bellefonte, Pa. promised to be a fascinating show, at once sad and ugly but thrilling just the same. Victim after victim of Sandusky's alleged crimes would get to tell their stories of abuse at his hands.

Members of the gawkasoriate would take notes, picking out the juiciest tidbits to relate to a public hungry for details about Sandusky's alleged career as a child molester.

And just when the show was about to get started yesterday morning, it was suddenly, infuriatingly called off.

Defense Attorney Joe Amendola, waived the hearing that would have allowed Sandusky to face his accusers. He pleaded his client not guilty and afterwards accused Sandusky's alleged victims of being little more than money-grubbing liars.

A lawyer for one of Sandusky's accusers called Amendola's legal move, "despicable." Amendola could have saved everyone, prosecutors, witnesses, and especially the alleged victims, not to mention the media, a lot of time and trouble if he'd announced his intentions a day earlier. But no, he waited until the very moment the show was about to begin and then he dropped the curtain.

What a let down! But the lack of a show didn't stop hundreds of stories from being filed and the future of the case speculated upon.

I, for one, didn't go for this pump fake. I didn't make the three-and-a-half-hour drive to this little hamlet for the prelim. Not because I'm smart but because I'm too old and my legs are too tired to waste my energy leaving the floor while the guy I'm trying to cover works an up-and-under move. It's easy to get an elbow in the jaw coming down when you join the helicopter club.

So though, I was e-vited to attend this fiasco, I passed. Ironically, the last time I was in Bellafonte it was to interview a convicted child predator. I was unimpressed by his claims of innocence but I told his story, such as it was.

Since his arrest, with the blessing of his attorney, Jerry Sandusky has been telling his story to selected reporters. He loves kids, both boys and girls, and old people too. Is he sexually attracted to young boys? He can't really say. He doesn't seem to know. But he knows enough to say he never touched any of them in a sexual way. That will remain his story, right up until the time he pleads guilty or is convicted of however many of the 50 counts of child abuse lodged against him.

No, the case against Jerry Sandusky doesn't particularly interest me anymore. There's no mystery in it and I have little doubt about the outcome.

The cases that interest me are the perjury cases against Penn State administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz.

One of the people who didn't have to testify at Sandusky's hearing yesterday was the enigmatic Mike McQueary, who supposedly witnessed Sandusky raping a boy in the Penn State lockerroom shower in 2002. He is the one witness Joe Amendola appeared to be drooling to cross examine. Prosecutors would have been crazy to put him on the stand yesterday, given they had plenty of other victim/accusers to hold Sandusky for trial.

But the cases against Curley and Schultz are based almost entirely on the word of McQueary. He says he told them what he told the grand jury about what he saw that night. Curley and Schultz say he was less certain and much more vague than that. The grand jury believed McQueary.

Since then, McQueary's story has changed a bit. Other witnesses are reporting he told them a different version of what he saw - and didn't see - that night. And what he did - and didn't do - that night.

Friday, Curley and Schultz face their preliminary hearings on their perjury charges in Harrisburg. I can't imagine that hearing being waived. McQueary will have to testify in open court and face cross examination. Now that is a performance I would like to see.

Pre-Holiday Ruminations

Reforming the LCB, nasty but empty criticism from an epidemiologist, and the wisdom of the American people. My print column is up.

UPDATE: Here is a copy of an email I sent to Dr. Elizabeth Dufort, who is mentioned in the second item of today's column
Dr. Dufort,

I have twice tried to reach you and have left messages in an effort to accept your offer to personally educate me about how HIV is and is not spread. I would also like to know exactly where you believe I went "scientifically" and "ethically" wrong in my article.

For the third time, I can be reached at...

I did respond to your email as best I could in today's Daily Times. You can find my response here.

Read down to the second item.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon. You did, after all, declare it you "duty" to educate ill-informed people like myself. Please do not shirk it.

Gil Spencer
Here is Dr. Dufort's email in its entirety:
Mr. Spencer,

Sadly I found your article as the first google search result regarding the recent discrimination case of a young boy being refused admission to a boarding school, not based on his credentials, but rather his HIV status.

Mr. Spencer,
(As you stated in your article, I don’t say Dr. Spencer, as you have no reported credentials in the field of infectious diseases, public health or HIV).
My name is Dr. Elizabeth Dufort. I AM an expert in infectious diseases, children with infectious diseases, and HIV.

I CAN speak to the comments made by Caplan and other ‘non-experts’ in the mentioned ABC news article.
They are not only just, but scientifically correct.

I lament the fact that you are ignorant in your position and I lament the fact that the Delaware County Daily Times editor opted to publish an article written by someone who is exactly as you state-“not a medical doctor, let alone an epidemiologist”.

I am glad to hear that you would have allowed the entrance of this child into your school, however, your egocentric reasoning for that decision and the rest of your unethical and non-scientifically valid article truly obviates this one just action you might have taken.

I would be happy to have a conference call educating you and any other individuals on HIV. I feel this is my duty, as I imagine not only the suffering of this one boy from this discrimination, but also I imagine my patients reading your article and suffering for fear and discrimination. This is a sad day to realize this. I also worry about the children in your school (and the children at Milton Hershey). It is a sad day for them to learn (or not learn) about ethics, science, medicine, or public health from a school director such as yourself and the Milton Hershey head of school.

I hope that this response (and the many others, I imagine you will receive), will prompt an educational initiative at your schools in ethics, HIV education, and discrimination (in it’s many forms and it’s basis). As an educator, it would be a laudable, and maybe the only redeeming action at this point. In addition, of course, to an apology to this boy and all the others and in general for speaking to a subject of which you are ignorant.

I am ‘cc’ing the Delaware County Daily Times editor/publisher/online editor, as well as other potentially interested individuals.


Dr. Elizabeth Dufort

Elizabeth Dufort, MD
Assistant Professor
Albany Medical College/Albany Medical Center
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
UPDATE: Finally, a response from Dr. Dufort:

Not shirking at all.
I would be happy to talk, however, I am a busy clinician and have been particularly busy this week (as it is my week on inpatient service in the hospital). My patients are ill and require evaluation and management that day and it has been a busy week.

I will call as soon as I have the chance.

Regards and thanks for the response. I will read your article response today when I have a minute.

Liz Dufort
I shall look forward to speaking with her at her convenience.

UPDATE: My email back to Dufort:

Glad to hear it and thanks. As I mentioned in today's column, you are doing God's work in helping sick kids to get well, so respond at your convenience.

Also, if it is easier, feel free to email any specific objections to what I asserted in any of my three columns about this matter, as far as HIV risk is concerned. And why you think MHS is ethically and scientifically wrong to be concerned about the potential for an HIV-positive student to infect others, specifically through consensual sex.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Romney Time

Holman Jenkins has a clear-eyed, well-reasoned man-crush on Mitt.
Our world that's coming is a world of narrowing, not widening, choices. It's a world that suits Mr. Romney's skills and history, his knack for operating within constraints and making choices based on data, data, data. Mr. Obama lives in the same world, of course, but is unequipped to deal with it given his dubious gifts for execution, execution, execution. Also, given his inclination to seek refuge in a clueless reverie of big new programs at a time when the resources simply don't exist.

Nor is there a Big Idea that can transform our unhappy prospects. Lunar mining will not rescue Medicare. People like Mr. Gingrich play a useful role in politics: It's good to be able to talk thrillingly about history, civilization. But they make bad—perhaps we should say, unnecessary—presidents. When ideas are new and unfamiliar, they're not executable. When they're executable we need people who can execute.

The consensus for painful reform comes when the status quo hits the wall. It's a myth that we don't know what our choices are. That's the Romney moment. His strong suit has always been to do what everyone else has put off.

Only Need 15 Trillion in the Kettle

(Posted by Dannytheman)

The Monkey's Butt

Obama's man David Axelrod gets off a good line about Newt Gingrich:
"The higher a monkey climbs on the pole the more you can see his butt."
Axelrod knows nobody could get away with saying that about his master. Not because it isn't true. But because it would be, you know, racist.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Ross Douthat makes an excellent point in an excellent column:
More important for the Republican Party’s purposes, it isn’t 2008 anymore, and conservatives don’t actually need to explode the fantasy of Obama’s eloquence and omnicompetence. The harsh reality of governing has already done that for them. Nobody awaits the president’s speeches with panting anticipation these days, or expects him to slay his opponents with the power of his intellect. Obamamania peaked with the inauguration, and it’s been ebbing ever since.

Newt Gingrich might debate circles around Obama. He might implode spectacularly, making a hot mess of himself while the president keeps his famous cool. But either way, setting up a grand rhetorical showdown seems unlikely to supply a disillusioned country with what it’s looking for from Republicans in 2012.

Conservatives may want catharsis, but the rest of the public seems to mainly want reassurance. They already know Barack Obama isn’t the messiah he was once cracked up to be. What they don’t know is whether they can trust anyone else to do better
In other words, Obama climbed the pole and his butt is out there for the entire country to see.

Heh! for the Holidays

I did the math. It's a saving of $25. Not exactly mouth-dropping. But not bad!

UPDATE: For the feminist who has everything...

Let's face it, Hillary hasn't fit into that particular pantsuit since 1963.

Fear Factor

New Gallup poll: Fear of "big government" is near all-time high. Just shows how smart the Amercian people are.

What, No Amnesty?

Marc Thiessen rips Amnesty International for its blatantly partisan call for the arrest of George W. Bush.

Big deal. Nobody listens to Amnesty International but left-wing nitwits. After all, this is the same group that believes Mumia Abu Jamal is the world's foremost political prisioner.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 99 Percent Solution

Doyle McManus praises Obama for "siding with the 99 percent." But he still wonders if he can win the independent vote.

Actually, Obama sides with the 48 percent who pay no federal income taxes in this country and against the young people who will have to pay the bill for all his useless stimulus and out of control government spending.

Letter of the Week

It comes from Dominic A. Sisti, Ph.D. in defense of his friend and mentor Arthur Caplan, Ph.D at the Center of Bioethics who I mentioned in a recent column.

Mr. Spencer,

Your article, 'Milton Hershey critics need to wake up' was nothing more than ad hominem-laced tedium that bolstered the strength of the positions of the individuals you attacked. Next time, please present a bit of substance to refute the claims of those with whom you disagree, even if that means spending some time doing background research beyond Googling Dr. Caplan's curriculum vitae.

Your appeal to authority ("The Tully Fitzsimmons and Arthur Caplans of the world flatter themselves into believing that they know better about what is right and what is good for a particular private school than the grownups who have been running that school for years") was particularly ironic considering recent stories about horrible moral failings of longstanding leaders and institutions. Essentially it seems what you're saying is, "Trust the people running the school without question because they know best." Do you really believe this is a legitimate argument? If so, I have many undergraduates who would be happy to tutor you in informal logic and ethics.

Dr. Caplan is a mentor, friend and colleague. Hopefully you won't attack me now on those grounds, though such an attack would be unsurprising.

Dominic A. Sisti, Ph.D.
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Senior Fellow, Center for Bioethics
Director, The Scattergood Program for the Applied Ethics of Behavioral Healthcare
Of course, I am terribly sorry for boring Mr. Sisti with what he perceived as my substance-lacking, ad hominem attack on his friend and colleague, Arthur Caplan. But was "tedium" really the word he was looking for to describe my column? From the tone of his email, it doesn't sound as if it bored him. It sounds like it enraged and frustrated him. In fact, I would almost feel "attacked" by his response, if I didn't understand he had to have meant it as constructive criticism. Would it be bioethical of him to have meant it in any other way?

Still, while he claims that the column - in which I criticized Mr. Caplan and others for their rush to self-righteous judgement in the matter of Abraham Smith vs. Milton Hershey School - lacked "substance," surely it contained more information, facts, and analysis than the remarks attributed to Caplan by ABC News. Two previous columns of mine on the same subject were also stuffed with facts about AIDS, teenage sexual behavior, recent outbreaks of HIV on college campuses in North Carolina, and varying standards of acceptable risks, etc. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Sisti missed both of them.

In any case, Mr. Caplan conveyed to ABC News his astonishment any school in this day and age would think twice about accepting an HIV-positive applicant.
"This notion that you can't put him in residential housing at a school because he is a vector of death is a throwback to 1987, when people were worried you couldn't mainstream children in any school," (Caplan) said. "It sets back what we know to be true about the disease."

Caplan suggested the school use this as a teaching opportunity to educate students about HIV.

"I'd like to see the school hold a seminar," said Caplan. "And if the school isn't going to do the right thing, students need to confront the administration..."

... Caplan said the case reminds him of Ryan White, the teenager who became the face of the AIDS virus in the 1980s after being kicked out of school for fear it would spread through everyday contact.

"I think they'll lose the lawsuit," he said. " So they better get ready to figure out how they're going to accept him."
As I pointed out in my column, Caplan is not epidemiologist. As far as I know he is not a lawyer either, but that didn't stop him from offering his legal opinion on the case either.

Furthermore, he and others should know that there are distinct differences between this case and the Ryan White case. White was enrolled in a public school day school, not a year-round, private boarding school. And Caplan apparently assumes (incorrectly) that Milton Hershey officials fear HIV can be spread through casual contact. They don't. And if he had read the legal brief, the school's lawyers prepared and was posted on the Internet before he commented on the matter, he'd have known that. Their concern is the risk that the student in question might have consensual sex with a classmate sometime over the next four years. Given their years of experience, they know that however hard to try to prevent their teenage students from engaging in ill-advised sexual activity, a good number of them will anyway. Having even one sexually active, HIV-positive student on campus 24/7 for four years would have to increase the admittedly low likelihood of another student becoming infected.

Why that is so hard for some supposedly smart people to understand is beyond me.

The Milton Hershey School could certainly lose this case in court. Given the state of the ADA law, their denial of admission will have to pass a standard of pretty strict legal scrutiny. It will be up to a judge to decide if being forced to increase a pretty low risk of HIV transmission on their campus, represents a "direct threat" to the health and safety to their other students.

Finally, at the risk of having Mr. Sisti feel "attacked" by me, let me first assure him that if I do so it's not because he is friend, colleague and mentoree of Mr. Caplan's. I do so because of his own insulting, ill-informed statements and his effort to attribute to me things I did not say.
Essentially it seems what you're saying is, "Trust the people running the school without question because they know best."
Funny that, because I'm the one who actually called the school and QUESTIONED them about the decision. I don't suppose Mr. Caplan did that before spouting off to ABC or Mr. Sisti did before sitting down at his computer and firing off what he no doubt thinks is a very clever and substantive email.

Using strawman arguments is no way for a grown-up bioethicist to argue. Here's hoping that Mr. Sisti is not teaching his undergraduates that it is. Many of them are incurring substantial debt to get what they hope is a useful and proper education. They deserve better if this is an example of the best he has to offer.

Bald "Winning!!!!"

Move over Charlie Sheen...

But not always... Mostly he plays a clown.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Free Mumia? Of Course...

Mark Lewis Taylor, the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary calls for the immediate release of Mumia Abu Jamal.

Writes the Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Theology and Culture:
The redress for Abu-Jamal's 30 years of anguish and the "cruel and unusual punishment" he has suffered is not life in prison without parole. It is release from prison into the arms of family and friends, into spaces of support and life.
The real Maxwell M. Upson was an engineer, a graduate of Cornell University and a winner of the Edward Longstreth medal from the Franklin Institute for his contribution to science and the industrial arts. He holds several patents for retention and seawall design. Sounds like a pretty sensible fellow. Makes you wonder if he would enjoy having his name associated with a radical political movement to free a cop killer.

The seminary is apparently looking for a new Maxwell M. Upson Professor. Here's hoping they find one who is not such a useless idiot.

UPDATE: Debra Saunders writes:
The worst of it is that it doesn't matter if juries found defendants guilty of capital murder. It doesn't matter if voters approved their state's death penalty law. It doesn't matter if the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld states' capital punishment protocols. As long as there are judges and politicians willing to undermine the appellate process, capital punishment opponents don't have to win at the ballot or in front of the nation's top court to beat the death penalty.
Read it all here.

UPDATE II: From the comments: Steve McDonald asks if we have seen Tigre Hill's documentary "Barrel of a Gun." No, but here's the trailer.

Our Imperial Congress

Another reason to have contempt for Congress; it exempts itself from many of the laws it imposes on the rest of us.
The chief executives of public companies must certify their accounts, and face fines of up to $5 million and as many as 20 years in prison if they do so falsely. Members of Congress (like all federal officials) can make up numbers out of whole cloth without any sanction at all. Incorrect corporate numbers can mislead markets. Incorrect federal budget numbers can mislead the nation. (Perhaps the federal budget, like corporate balance sheets, should be vetted by independent third-party auditors.)
That'll be the day.

Gimme Take Shelter

Saw this film yesterday in NYC. It's good. Slow paced but good.

UPDATE:'s Steve Rea reviews it, I think perfectly, here.

The Incredibly Shrinking Mumia

Mumia supporters celebrate the 30th anniversary of Daniel Faulkner's death. The object of their affections will not be executed for his crimes. He will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Efforts to win him a new trial will continue but the Mumia movement will have been drained of what little urgency it had left.

My print column is up.

Take the HIV/AIDS Quiz

After a week of writing about the decision of the Milton Hershey School not to take a Delco kid who is HIV-positive, I took a quiz this morning to test how much I know about the subject.

Out of ten questions, I got nine right. Guess which one I got wrong. Take the quiz yourself by clicking here.

BTW, the web site, The Body, is an excellent place to get info about HIV/AIDS.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friends Don't Let Friends Have Sex While Drunk

Just a friendly warning from your pals at the state Liquor Control Board:

Brilliant and gone but not forgotten.


Our refinery guys go to Washington D.C. to see if there is any help to be had there to prevent the Marcus Hook, Trainer and Philly plants from shutting down.

Their best argument would be 'Hey, you guys bailed out big banks and General Motors. Why not us?'

Losing refining capacity in the U.S., they say, is a national security issue. It's a big stretch but it's not a totally crazy argument.

There was talk about union members "occupying" the front lawn of Sunoco CEO Lynn Elsenhans' house. What they ought to be occupying is the Environment Protection Agency.

And I've got their chant for them: "Drill, Baby, Drill! Refine, Baby, Refine!"

Our Class-Warrior-in-Chief

Say ello to my lil fren, Barack "Hugo" Obama. His most recent speech is a big hit with his fellow resentment-filled, big government lefties. Not so much with Chucky the K.
This is populism so crude that it channels not Teddy Roosevelt so much as Hugo Chavez. But with high unemployment, economic stagnation and unprecedented deficits, what else can Obama say?

He can’t run on stewardship. He can’t run on policy. His signature initiatives — the stimulus, Obamacare and the failed cap-and-trade — will go unmentioned in his campaign ads. Indeed, they will be the stuff of Republican ads.

What’s left? Class resentment. Got a better idea?
Yeah, this.

Tully Fitzsimmons et al. vs. Milton Hershey School

Meet this "Economist, Business Educator, entrepreneur, bodybuilder, progressive/leftist civil libertarian, anglo-catholic episcopalian, pistol-packing outdoorsman, beach-bumming, broadway-loving, bourbon-drinking, baseball-fanatic partnered gay man with six adopted interracial children” and vocal critic of the Milton Hershey School.

My print column is up

Corzine Stumped by Missing Money

About that missing $900 million from customer accounts at MF Global, maybe some lowly clerk accidentally set fire to it during a routine evidence burn. Stranger things have happened elsewhere.

UPDATE: Moon rocks go missing too. Come on, does anyone still believe we actually went to the moon?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Comb Over

It's Not Going To Stop...

Something about this song reminds me of President Obama's first three years in office...

Name the movie it's from and win... high praise.

UPDATE: Here's a hint, from the same movie

The Growing Inequality at Universities

On college campuses the income gap widens at the top.

As well it should.
Within the world of private higher education, there are a handful of college presidents who earn considerably more than professors on their campuses, or gobble up a notable share of their institutions’ budgetary pie, a Chronicle analysis has found. There are also significant pay gaps among presidents, 36 of whom earned more than $1-million in 2009.
College presidents wear many hats and have to serve numerous constitutencies. Mostly though, they have to raise money. People who do that well, deserve to be well compensated.

But who ever heard of Moutain State University?

Newt's Right About Work

Ruben Navarrette sticks up for Newt's comments about getting teenagers, especially poor ones, to work:
Gingrich is supposedly at war with the poor for saying this: "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works, so they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday..."

...Gingrich pointed out that, for instance, among African-American teenagers, the unemployment rate is a staggering 43%.

Now, you can spin a statistic like that one of two ways. You can say these unemployed black teenagers are helpless victims and the system is working against them. Or you can say that many of these teenagers are unemployable because no one ever taught them the skills necessary to hold down a job. Gingrich thinks government should have a hand in creating a "pathway to work" so "people get in the work habit and learn the skills to be successful."

Bravo for Newt.
What this has to do with his being president, I'm not sure. But right is right.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

After 30 Years, Death Penalty Dropped Against Annoying, Disgusting, Guilty-As-Sin Cop-Killer Mumia Abu Jamal

I guess enough was enough. And I said so here.

But it still makes me kind of sick, especially after reading comments like this:
"There is no question that justice is served when a death sentence from a misinformed jury is overturned," (Widener Law Prof. Judith) Ritter said. "Thirty years later, the district attorney's decision not to seek a new death sentence also furthers the interests of justice."
UPDATE: At least Maureen Faulkner, the wife of Daniel Faulkner and Wesley Cook's victim, was allowed to put things in perspective:
"My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters, who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom," Maureen Faulkner said Wednesday. "All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us."
"The disgusting reality with the death penalty in Pennsylvania is that the fix is in before the hearing even begins," she said.

Faulkner also vowed to fight anyone who tries to extract special treatment for Abu-Jamal, advocating instead that he be moved to the general population after being taken off death row.

"I will not stand by and see him coddled, as he has been in the past," Faulkner said. "And I am heartened that he will be taken from the protective cloister he has been living in all these years and begin living among his own kind — the thugs and common criminals that infest our prisons."
As long as he dies in prison, some measure of justice will be served.

Ignorance and the Milton Hershey School

More on "Abraham Smith" vs The Milton Hershey School. My print column is up.

At the end of it, I mention the outbreak of HIV a few years back at University of North Carolina, and that if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere. From UNC TV:
For years, doctors thought college students were at low risk for contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But researchers at UNC Chapel Hill's medical school recently found an outbreak of the virus on 37 campuses in our state...

Dr. Lisa Hightow/UNC-CH Medical School: The investigation started because we noticed there were two cases of acute HIV infection in college students in North Carolina, specifically in the Triangle area. Both of those cases were in black males.

That led Dr. Lisa Hightow to review the state's records for young men diagnosed with HIV between January 2000 and December 2003, under the direction of Dr. Peter Leone.

Dr. Peter Leone/UNC-CH Medical School & Medical Director, HIV/STD Prevention & Care Branch: What we found was very few cases in 2000, but a gradual increase from 2000 through 2003, so that by 2003 we had 30 new cases of HIV in college students that had been diagnosed that year.

Drs. Leone and Hightow say over those four years, a total of 84 men at 37 colleges statewide contracted HIV. And a sexual partner network linked them to outbreaks in five other states.

Dr. Hightow: And when you look at the number of colleges that are involved, the number of students, we see a trend. And our goal as public health practitioners is to prevent the numbers from getting into the range of the hundreds and the thousands...
Meanwhile, the news coverage of MHS story has been transparently one-sided, accusatory and soft-headed. For instance, from ABC News there was this:
A 13-year-old boy who applied to a Hershey, Pa., boarding school told ABC News that it never crossed his mind he would be denied entry because he was HIV-positive.

"I thought I would get into the school, because of the type of student and person I am," he told ABC News in a written interview through his lawyer.

As a result of the school's decision, he added, "my life has turned into fear, anger, confusion and tears."

The school said today that its residential setting and the risk of sexual activity made the teen too much of a "threat."
"In a written interview through his lawyer"? The lawyer is not only suing to get the young man into the school but for the "intentional infliction" of "mental anguish," "grief," "worry," "severe emotional distress," embarrassment, humiliation, etc., so it's good that in the "interview" the poor kid mentioned the "fear, anger, confusion and tears" he's been experiencing.

The story goes on to quote that noted AIDS epidemiologist Arthur Caplan at Penn's Center for Bioethics.
"This notion that you can't put him in residential housing at a school because he is a vector of death is a throwback to 1987, when people were worried you couldn't mainstream children in any school," he said. "It sets back what we know to be true about the disease."

Caplan suggested the school use this as a teaching opportunity to educate students about HIV.
"The vector of death," has a nice ring to it but that is his loaded phrase not the school's. As for this being a throwback to 1987, it may have escaped Mr. Caplan's notice but people are still getting and transmitting the HIV virus. Residential educational settings hardly immune from that sad fact (as noted above).

By the way, I say "Mr." Caplan because he is not a medical doctor, let alone an epidemiologist. He has a Ph.D in the Philosophy of Science, which makes him no more of an expert on the AIDS epidemic than I am. Why ABC would cite him as some authoritative source on the subject is beyond me.

As it happens though, I AM on the board of a residential educational facility for young men between the ages of 15 and 18. The school serves boys that have been adjudicated delinquent by a court. And we will take HIV positive young men, no questions asked. Why? Three reasons:

1. Though we are a private school, we take public money from a variety of jurisdictions. Doing so requires us to adhere more strictly to anti-discrimination laws than private schools (like MHS) that don't take public money.

2. Refusing an HIV positive kid, would not only invite the very sort of lawsuit filed against MHS but it would prevent our customers, public agencies themselves, from using our school as the very valuable resource it is for educating court-adjudicated youth.

3. Last and most importantly, we believe that the chances of an HIV positive student on our campus infecting anyone else, student or staff, are truly remote.

What makes our school different than MHS is that it is a single-sex institution with one-quarter the population. Our students stay, on average, 9 months or less. Unlike at MHS, opportunities for consensual sex between the boys under our care, while existent, are few and far between.

Furthermore, all staff are well trained to take universal precautions when it comes to dealing with potential blood-born pathogens from hepatitis to HIV. I have no doubt that MHS staff are equally well trained. What sets it apart from a school like ours is the length of stays of the students (months vs. years) and the overall opportunity for sexual activity between students. The absence of girls on our campus plus keeping our students busy 16 hours a day with learning, sports and other activities, helps.

When MHS spokesman Connie McNamara says the administration "struggled" with this decision, I believe her. What that means is, it could have gone the other way. That it didn't doesn't mean that they have been capricious, ignorant or bigoted in their thinking. Quite the contrary.

Lastly, I think the AIDS Law Project and this boy's mother are doing this kid an enormous disservice. They are (intentionally or not) instilling and nurturing in him a sense of aggrievement and entitlement, that helps very few teenagers in the long run. He has been made to think that he has been turned away by MHS because the school is run by stupid, ignorant haters, who dislike him personally.

This kid has been dealt a bad hand by life. Neither his lawyer, nor his mother, aren't making it any better by putting him at the center of this very public controversy.