Saturday, August 29, 2009

You Can't Be Too Careful

Are you ready for the Rapture, but concerned about your pets who will will be left behind with the other unbelievers? Don't trouble yourself. Here's a service that will put all your fears to rest. Anxious the person entrusted with your pet may be inadvertently saved himself? No worries. Just read this, from the Frequently Asked Questions page:

How do you ensure your representatives won't be Raptured?
Actually, we don't ensure it, they do. Each of our representatives has stated to us in writing that they are atheists, do not believe in God / Jesus, and that they have blasphemed in accordance with Mark 3:29, negating any chance of salvation.

The Home Office wishes to thank the Show Tunes Correspondent for pointing out this valuable service. You're welcome, and have a blessed day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Don't Do the Crime If You Can't Do the Time

A lot of people are upset that New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress got two years for carrying an unlicensed handgun into a New York nightclub and accidentally shooting himself in the leg. More than one site has claimed Burress is being made an example because of his celebrity.

What we don’t know is the average sentence handed out in New York for the same offense. The charge carries a mandatory three-and-a-half years if it goes to a jury that returns a guilty verdict. Burress had no argument to make in his defense—hard to deny anything when the smoking gun is in your pants and your leg’s bleeding—so the prosecution could drive a hard bargain.

Was Burress’s sentence excessive? Let’s say yes, just for the sake of argument. Has he not enjoyed untold benefits from that same celebrity? He’s received perks and privileges beyond what any “normal” person can expect; more than some of them can imagine. He and his apologists have never complained about those excesses. Let’s not put up with too much of it now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's Left Unsaid

Ezra Klein is fast becoming an elite blogger, what others should aspire to: someone who can do his own reporting and put what he finds into perspective. Today he posted on the true costs of political calculus.

Be Careful What You Ask For

In 2004, alarmed at the prospect of Mitt Romney appointing a replacement for John Kerry should he become president, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law stripping the governor of the power to fill vacant Senate seats, demanding a special election to be held no fewer than 145 days after the seat becomes vacant. The law never had to be applied.

Now Ted Kennedy has asked the legislature to amend the law to allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint an interim Senator to fill the gap between the time Kennedy may be unable to serve and the election, so the “Commonwealth [will] have two voices speaking for the needs of its citizens and two votes in the Senate during the approximately five months between a vacancy and an election."

Of course, it’s health care reform that’s on Kennedy’s mind. He’s the magic 60th vote the Democrats need to invoke cloture in the event of a Republican filibuster. That vote won’t wait five months. Even if Kennedy resigned today, it would be too late.

This is why it’s never a good idea to change established law to accommodate a temporary situation. Massachusetts panicked at the prospect of Republican Romney appointing Kerry’s replacement; their remedy now prevents Democrat (and Obama supporter) Patrick from appointing Kennedy’s.

Republicans who were hot to do away with filibusters several years ago would do well to remember this. No political situation is permanent. Without the threat of filibuster in the Senate, they’d be powerless to stop a health care bill they’d like even less than any of the current options. Not saying whether that’s a good things, or a bad thing. Just that it’s wise to remember the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass every day.

Friday, August 14, 2009

An Open Letter

I just sent the following letter to my Congressman and both Senators:

Dear [Majority Leader Hoyer/Senator Mikulski/Senator Cardin],

I am a constituent who lives in Laurel, though no longer a registered Democrat. I changed my affiliation to Independent last month in disgust over the party’s ineffectiveness after over thirty years as a loyal Democrat. How the Republican minority is able to derail essential legislation after larger Democratic minorities were unable to act as more than inconveniences to the previous Republican majorities is disheartening. Health care legislation s an opportunity to show Democrats not only have their hearts and heads in the right place, but are willing to take some risks to stand up for their beliefs.

The protesters who have disrupted town hall meetings do not represent the mainstream of American thought. Their arguments are not just wrong; they’re nonsensical. Many of their comments don’t even relate to the issue. Saying they “don’t want we love taken away from us” implies the America they love is unconcerned that our children and the elderly die from diseases and conditions that are routinely treated in other, less “developed” countries. Don’t just stand there, shocked at their incivility. Call them on it.

The radio hosts and pundits who speak of “death panels” and “rationing of care” aren’t just mistaken; they lie. Their comments are not different interpretation of the facts; they are, at best, gross distortions. At worst, they are lies. Call them on it

American voters elected a Democratic president and solid majorities in each house of Congress because they wanted things to be different. Bipartisan agreement is much to be desired, but we didn’t vote Democratic in the interests of bipartisanship. We voted for results, and we’re not getting them.

I see in today’s news the “death panels” have been removed from consideration because of the furor surrounding them. Shame on you. Are you so concerned with what is politically expedient you have lost touch with what is right? Let some of these “controversial” points come to the floor for argument. Force the opposition to make their comments for the record, so history may judge them, as it will judge you if this opportunity is allowed to pass.

The majority of the American people have handed you a great opportunity. Please do not let a vocal, unrepresentative fringe deny us what so many around the world take for granted.


This Could Be Fun

Baltimore's future practice squad players beat Washington's future practice squad players 23-0 last night in the initial exhibition--excuse me--pre-season game for each team. Pre-season football is usually below my radar, but one thing about this result gives me hope for the future.

I can imagine Redskins owner "Chainsaw" Danny Snyder standing in his luxury box with that look on his face he gets when the Redskins are taking the pipe. Few things in life give me more unadulterated pleasure than seeing Danny get the red ass.

If the Redskins stink, this football season could be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

(How Not To) Build a Fan Base

The final father-daughter pre-college activity with the Sole Heir will be a day at the museum of her choosing, followed by a ball game. Today was ticket purchase day, and a reminder if why I don’t go to nearly as many baseball games as I used to.

First stop, the Nats’ web site. You can specify general location by price, and how many tickets. The computer tells you where you’ll sit, and you’ll like it. Take it or leave it. It told me to sit in Section 314, Row H. These seats are just a smidge to the right of home plate, but I’d rather sit a little farther up the line if I could be closer to the front of a section. Too bad for me. Ten years ago you could visit a team’s web site and see the view from your prospective seat. Thirty years ago I walked into Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and get the specific seats I asked for from a man holding cardboard tickets. Now you can’t even pick a section.

I asked the system for different tickets in the same price range. Section 314, Row H. I sensed a whiff if irritability from my monitor, as though the web site was put out over my audacity in challenging its judgment.

I called the Nats’ ticket office and explained my situation to a (barely) living person. He didn’t seem too enthused, and pretended to be surprised at my inability to choose specific seats. I told him what my tradeoffs were, and he asked what section I wanted to sit in. I said the stadium map does not have section numbers, and I didn’t have a specific section in mind, just somewhere I could sit closer to the front.

“Well, man, you have to give me a section number,” he said.

“No, I don’t,” I said, and hung up.

Back to the web site, where I grabbed my ankles and took the final insult. In order for you, the paying customer, to fully appreciate the convenience of no longer being able to choose your seat, charges a $4.50 convenience fee. Per seat. That does not include the $3.50 Order Processing Fee. Nor does it include the $1.75 they charge you to print your own tickets at home. Sum total for two $24 tickets: $62.25, a 30% markup.

Even better, these charges are non-refundable, even if the event is canceled. That’s no big deal for baseball games; they have rain checks. also handles other events, such as concerts. What they’re telling you is, if you happen to have seats for the night Christie Brinkley decides to take Billy Joel back and he ditches the gig, you’re still out the fees. Using our example, that would mean you spent $14 not to go to a concert that didn’t take place. Organized crime has a name for that kind of operation.

It’s not like people are mugging season ticket holders to get into Nats games. Even after a recent eight-game winning streak they’re on pace for a 57-105 record. Two full-time players have higher batting averages than the Nats’ winning percentage. Their five years in DC have produced one non-losing season, when they went 81-81 in 2005. The owners withheld rent payments for several months last year. The ballpark is nice, but it’s no Camden Yards or PNC Park. Management’s sense of entitlement is beyond unbecoming.

We’ll have fun, because The Sole Heir and I always have fun at a ball game. We’re not going to have so much fun that I make dealing with the Washington Nationals a regular source of sporting entertainment, not with the Bowie Bay Sox fifteen miles from my house. Given the Nationals’ record, it’s not like a AA team will play inferior baseball.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Neighbors Make Good Fences, Too

From, courtesy of the Show Tunes Correspondent.

SEVERN -- Police said Tuesday that a woman came across a yard sale that included some familiar items -- her own.

Officers responded to the woman's house last week in the 800 block of Reece Road. The woman, whose name wasn't released, told Anne Arundel County police that her home and shed had been burglarized and that a "significant amount" of property had been stolen.

Two days later, she noticed the yard sale taking place just a few houses away and observed that items being sold had been stolen from her during the burglary, police said.

Detectives obtained a search warrant and recovered about $25,000 worth of the victim's property, which was returned to her.

David Anthony Perticone, 46, was charged with first-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary and theft, police said.

A Rational Voice in the Wilderness

The health care debate is too important for name calling and lies, yet that's what a lot of the opposition has come to. Sarah Palin recently wrote on her Facebook page:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

There's no other way to say it: her comments about "death panels" is a lie. It's not a difference of opinion. It's not a matter of perspective or context. She made it up out of whole cloth for her own political purposes, which is reprehensible, no matter which side she comes down on. Downright evil, even.

For the facts of this aspect of the health care debate, here's the transcript from today's Washington Post of an interview between Post blogger Ezra Klein and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA). That's right; he's a Republican.

EK: Is this bill going to euthanize my grandmother? What are we talking about here?

JI: In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that's because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia "durable power of attorney," you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you're unable to make those decisions.
This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it's to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It's just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.

EK: How did this become a question of euthanasia?

JI: I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.

EK: You're saying that this is not a question of government. It's for individuals.

JI: It empowers you to be able to make decisions at a difficult time rather than having the government making them for you.

EK: The policy here as I understand it is that Medicare would cover a counseling session with your doctor on end-of-life options.

JI: Correct. And it's a voluntary deal.

EK: It seems to me we're having trouble conducting an adult conversation about death. We pay a lot of money not to face these questions. We prefer to experience the health-care system as something that just saves you, and if it doesn't, something has gone wrong.

JI: Over the last three-and-a-half decades, this legislation has been passed state-by-state, in part because of the tort issue and in part because of many other things. It's important for an individual to make those determinations while they're of sound mind and body rather than no one making those decisions at all. But this discussion has been going on for three decades.

EK: And the only change we'd see is that individuals would have a counseling session with their doctor?

JI: Uh-huh. When they become eligible for Medicare.

EK: Are there other costs? Parts of it I'm missing?

JI: No. The problem you got is that there's so much swirling around about health care and people are taking bits and pieces out of this. This was thoroughly debated in the Senate committee. It's voluntary. Every state in America has an end of life directive or durable power of attorney provision. For the peace of mind of your children and your spouse as well as the comfort of knowing the government won't make these decisions, it's a very popular thing. Just not everybody's aware of it.

EK:What got you interested in this subject?

JI: I've seen the pain and suffering in families with a loved one with a traumatic brain injury or a crippling degenerative disease become incapacitated and be kept alive under very difficult circumstances when if they'd have had the chance to make the decision themself they'd have given another directive and I've seen the damage financially that's been done to families and if there's a way to prevent that by you giving advance directives it's both for the sanity of the family and what savings the family has it's the right decision, certainly more than turning it to the government or a trial lawyer.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


It's now one year to the day since The Sole Heir and I spent the day at Yellowstone Park. Not a week goes by I don't think about how I can get back.

It's good to have goals.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

We Needed Deconstruction, not Reconstruction

I have noted before that Lincoln should have let the South secede from the Union. Here's some evidence to buttress my claim.