Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gone Fishing 

No postings for a bit.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Where Have I Seen This Before? 

Douglas R. Burgess Jr. thinks that we can understand modern terrorists if we understand the history of piracy:
The corollaries between the pirates' "war against the world" and modern terrorism are profound and disturbing. With their vengeful practices, pirates were the first and perhaps only historical precedent for the terrorist cell: a group of men who bound themselves in extraterritorial enclaves, removed themselves from the protection and jurisdiction of the nation-state, and declared war against civilization. Both pirates and terrorists deliberately employ this extranationality as a means of pursuing their activities. The pirates hid in the myriad shoals and islands of the Atlantic. The terrorists hide in cells throughout the world. Both seek through their acts to bring notice to themselves and their causes. They share means as well—destruction of property, frustration of commerce, and homicide. Most important, both are properly considered enemies of the rest of the human race.
Burgess doesn't push the parallel too far, but notes that much of the hesitancy to accept the similarities may be due to the modern romanticization of the pirates of olde.

(via Arts & Letters Daily)

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Lots of branches down and large parts of northeastern Broward County without electricity in the aftermath of Katrina's first landfall. Would have been a lot worse here if the hurricane had not taken a sudden turn to the south.

And now, the worst case scenario.

Foot's Forecast: "On this Sunday morning and every morning for the next long while, I recommend you pray for all those in the path of this storm, and hope that by some miracle of grace, the city is spared what now seems to be a near certain doom."

"How bad will the flooding be? Unprecedented in modern times, eclipsing the Johnstown Flood. The casualty count may eclipse Galveston, and that is a conservative estimate."

Let's hope not.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Blog de Leon is back.

Now, what about Blunted on Reality and Dred?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Onward Christian Snipers 

Norbizness says that if there really was a just God, Pat Robertson would be "...dressed in eight layers of filthy clothing in a public park and be muttering to squirrels about CIA broadcasts through his fillings and the invisible atheist gnomes that are stealing his day-old charity bread."

But the Moral Majoritarian's suggestion that assassinating the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, would be the smart (Godly?) thing to do is only the latest in a whole series of blessed quotes.

And people wonder why we're worried about mixing church and state.

UPDATE: The Sun-Sentinel reports on the reaction of Venezuelans in South Florida, and the Miami Herald covers the reaction in Venezuela.

Correction: Robertson was the founder of the Christian Coalition, not the Moral Majority (that was Jerry Falwell's enterprise).

Monday, August 22, 2005

Debasing the Degree 

Exactly how good is a Harvard education? Apparently not very.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Bill 

I believe that as of today, he can withdraw from his IRA without penalties.

A Donkey the Size of an Elephant 

That Florida Blog says approval for Sen. Mel Martinez is "tanking."

TFB's link to SurveyUSA polling data show why Sen. Bill Nelson may be hard to beat in the general election -- he has a more favorable rating among Republicans than he does from members of his own party.

Don't expect a serious primary opponent, though.

An Audience of Lemmings 

Bark Bark Woof Woof has some quotes from Rush Limbaugh that say as much about his listeners as they do about him.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

They Also Sacrifice Who Stand and Wait 

In response to an earlier post here, Truth or Death cryptically comments that questioning the sacrifices made by the right-wingers is "sad."

I've got to give it to TorD . . . I found this post that backs TorD up:
Unconfirmed sources report that the U.S. Army has set a new recruiting record in the wake of President Bush's address to the nation last Tuesday. Young Republicans are flocking to Army recruiting centers to join up and volunteer to serve in Iraq. The flood of new recruits has caught the Army off guard and long lines are forming across the nation. If this flood of recruits keeps up the Army estimates it will actually have to close many recruiting centers.

"President Bush has performed a miracle." Says Michael D. Rochelle, head of recruiting command for the US Army. "We've got young men and women lining up outside recruiting centers waiting their turn to enlist. I've never seen anything like it. In the two days since the President spoke we have made up for all of last year's low recruitment and met our goals for the rest of the current year. If this keeps up we will have to shut down our recruitments centers, we won't be able to train that many more new recruits."

A sampling of the flood of new recruits finds that 95% of them are registered Republicans, many admitting that have been swept up by the Presidents stirring words of the other night.

"After hearing the President speak my heart told me to join up immediately." Says Kevin Whycliff, a senior at George Town University, who had been studying economics before he quit to enlist. "America needs me to fight, and who better to bear the burden of this fight than a guy like me. My family is rich, I've grown up with more privilege and opportunity than most and it's time to pay for it. I'm not going to run away from a fight like some draft dodging rich kid with family connections. No sir, even though there is no draft it is the responsibility of privileged Americans to fight this fight."

Young Mr. Whycliff is typical of the new batch or recruits. The sons and daughters of rich, white, well educated and politically connected Americans are joining the army to pay their due. Dozens of sons of congressmen and other elected officials are joining up. Some, no doubt, prompted not by the stirring words of their president, but by the urging of their patriotic parents who are too old to serve. The Presidents own daughters where even seen in line at Washington D.C. recruiting office.

Right wing media figures are also putting out the call for young Republicans to claim their birthrights, as there fathers did, by joining the fight in Iraq. Rush Limbaugh has been encouraging his young Republican listeners to heed the call to join up for months and is only now getting support from the rest of the Republican media leadership.

"It's about damn time these spoiled brats get out there and do some good." Raged Limbaugh recently. "These kids don't know how good they've got it. They have never had to work for anything in their lives... It time kiddies. Its' time to go to war... Dear listeners do you have sons and daughters who are of military age? Get them to the recruiting center! We need these good kids fighting for our freedom in Iraq!"

Historians are likening this rush of recruits to that of World War Two, when the best and brightest of Americans fought the greatest war of our times. Young Republicans are heeding the call to defend America to say thanks for the privileges that there parents have won for them and to secure those privileges for their own children.

Bravo! Young Republicans. Bravo!
What can I say? When You're wrong, you're wrong.

Stand By Your man 

A libertarian blogger at LewRockwell.com Blog seems amazed that his compatriots are still drinking W's kool-aid:
Let's see. The neocon regime expands the welfare state more than any time since LBJ; Bush has yet to veto a single spending bill; they expand the welfare state to Africa and other countries around the globe; they recruit illegal aliens to sign up for welfare (and vote Republican); pass the biggest pork barrel "transportation bill" in history; increase tariffs on steel and other goods; run record deficits; embrace environmentalist craziness; get us into an unnecessary war; and that's just for starters. And all those dopey college Republican morons -- and Rush Limbaugh worshippers -- think they're being "conservative" by blindly supporting the Bush regime!
Yeah, yeah . . . but they like a tough talker in the White House.

Hometown Boy 

Pensacola Beach Blog has some interesting takes on the potential entry of cable TV's Joe Scarborough into the Republican race for U. S. Senator.

PPB cites Katherine Harris' bizarre performance on Fox Cable News' Hannity and Combs show (video clip here) as well as "some faint signs that Scarborough may be feeling a little soiled after working the Cable TV circuit the past few years" as signs he might be willing to jump into the race.

Wanted: Strong Leader to Follow Party Line 

The St. Petersburg Times' Howard Troxler seems somewhat pessimistic about Governor Bush appointing a strong leader -- "a star" -- to head the state university system.
If this were a first-class state with a first-class university system, the only possible process would be a big-deal, formal national search. It would be the kind of search that made other great universities around the country worry about holding onto their talent.

I live with the hope that one day, Florida will have that first-class university system, because we will never be a first-class state without it. And we don't have it yet . . . .

The choice of a new chancellor is a chance to get a head start on the future - or to lose yet even more time to what has been a drifting, odd indifference.
(via Florida Politics)

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? 

I really haven't followed the Cindy Sheehan story very closely, so I can't comment on the details, but Bark Bark Woof Woof has an interesting post on the right-wing reaction.

The Barker's bottom line: "Labeling Ms. Sheehan as somehow unpatriotic is slander. So far none of the upper-crust righties have sacrificed anything for this war except, perhaps, foregoing paying for it through their tax cuts."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Ah, But the Strawberries . . . 

Capital Hill Blue wonders if President Bush is out of control.
Although GOP loyalists dismissed the reports [of the President's odd behavior] an anti-Bush propaganda, the reports were later confirmed by prominent George Washington University psychiatrist Dr. Justin Frank in his book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Dr. Frank diagnosed the President as a “paranoid meglomaniac” and “untreated alcoholic” whose “lifelong streak of sadism, ranging from childhood pranks (using firecrackers to explode frogs) to insulting journalists, gloating over state executions and pumping his hand gleefully before the bombing of Baghdad” showcase Bush’s instabilities.
CHP says the Prez's mood swings are so extreme that the White House staff has developed a code to warn others of what to expect.

(via Informaniac)

We're Number One! 

The 13th Juror reports on another achievment for Florida -- 1st in the nation in the percentage increase of new food stamp receipients.

Prepare for Impact 

The Palm Beach Post editorializes in favor of an 18 percent increase in the impact fee for new residential construction in the county. In response to charges by developers that this will make it even more difficult to create affordable housing, the Post notes that more than half of the new homes in Palm Beach County are selling for over half a million dollars.

It seems to me that one answer would be to exempt new housing that sells below a certain price from a percentage or all of the impact fee. These lost revenues would have to be made up somewhere, but since it's in the interests of the citizenry that there be affordable housing available, I don't believe that spreading the burden a little wider is unreasonable.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sound Business Practices 

Florida may be bringing up the rear among states in things like education and social services, but we're right up there in mortgage fraud.
"If you are a scam artist intending to defraud, Florida is the place to be right now," [Gregory Hallam, group vice president of First Florida Bank in Naples and president-elect of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Florida] said. "Everyone is in sales mode, and as a result, many people are not doing their due diligence."
According to the Naples Daily News some businesses are complicit in this as it's often less costly for a lender to write off a bad or fraudulent mortgage "than invest the time and effort to go after each offender."

Friday, August 12, 2005

I'm OK With It . . . For Fun 

My score on the Political Compass test:
Economic Left/Right: -5.25
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.79
Appears I'm in the same general territory as Nelson Mandela and Gandhi (that is if this means anything at all).

Nowhere to Go 

A new Florida International University study says that about half of the working poor in Miami-Dade County have been priced out of the housing market.
In recent years, as Miami-Dade's wave of new construction began spreading outward from downtown, sending property values soaring, many low-income families began moving south to Homestead where housing was affordable, community activists said. But now that Homestead is experiencing its own housing boom, many of those same families are scrambling to move elsewhere.

"People have moved to North Miami and North Miami Beach and even there the prices are out of reach," [Marleine] Bastien [executive director of Haitian Women of Miami] said, noting that some Miami-Dade families seeking affordable housing have moved to Lake Worth.

In Broward County, where many apartments are being converted into condos and the asking price often nears $200,000, the working poor also struggle to find housing, said Armando Fana, director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Miami office.

"The condo conversions and investors buying them are diminishing the supply in rental units and driving the prices up," Fana said.
Guess what? Ms. Bastien's comment about going to Lake Worth for affordable housing may already be, as they say, no longer operative.

Wait a Minute 

Sounds like some members of the NCAA panel that authorized banning university mascots that use American Indian names and images might be willing to rethink the decision.

Apparently the information that the Oklahoma Seminoles opposed use of the name "Seminoles" by FSU was based on communications by one individual who was not authorized to do so on behalf of the General Council of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma.

UPDATE: Are high school teams next?

Thursday, August 11, 2005


In a post to Poynter Online, Miami Herald executive editor Tom Fiedler dismisses Bob Norman's theory about the firing of Jim DeFede as "fantasy."

Fiedler indicates that he is stooping to offer any defense at all: "Normally I would regard responding to a New Times' article as being as dumb as standing between a dog and a hydrant."

Who Knew What and When? 

The Miami Herald has an interesting article on how recently released documents reveal that the CIA was predicting that the Bay of Pigs invasion would not succeed, even as the project moved forward. There is some question as to whether or not President Kennedy was informed about the CIA analysis.

The article also references the influence of various businesses with interests in Cuba in establishing an embargo: "the feeling of the business group was that it was time to get tough and, hopefully, the blame for an embargo would be laid on Castro."

If You Cash Out You Must Leave the Area 

The Palm Beach Post's Sally Schwartz is happy that local housing prices may be topping out.
I had hoped that my Michigander brother might become a snowbird with a nest near my home in Hobe Sound. I'd like to see my daughter settle nearby. We have some terrific young people on the newspaper staff who want to stay in the area. They would love to buy homes and start families in Martin and St. Lucie counties — but none can afford the prices.

And the prices do seem unbelievable. In my neighborhood, a tiny, old frame house for sale caught my eye a couple of months ago. It's small and homely, but it could be a nice "starter" home or snowbird haven, I thought, fantasizing about the possibilities and attaching a daydream price tag under $100,000. I was being generous; it looks like something that should sell for $50,000 to $75,000 — tops. In my dreams. This one-bedroom, one-bath, flat-roofed rectangle on the teeny lot was advertised at $270,000. A steady stream of people looked at it for a week. It sold for $240,000. A fixer-upper nearby was listed at $340,000 last week.
There are a number of factors that are pushing housing prices up and out of the range of many families, and local governments are moving the issue of affordable housing to the top of their priorty list.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Why These Fanatics Are Dangerous 

Blogwood juxtaposes "traditional values" with reality.

Disregard the Source 

The New Times' Bob Norman is hardly a model journalist (some would leave off the word "model"), but his take on the firing of Jim DeFede is worth considering.

Meanwhile, Michael Putney writes in the Herald that all sides have sinned.

Here's a Bad Idea 

The Broward County School Board is planning to sell ad spaceon its school buses.

Furthermore, "Board members said they would consider adding clothing-company logos to athletic jerseys and turning rooftops near the airport into gigantic billboards aimed at the sky."

I'm not too concerned about a Nike swoosh on soccer jerseys, but exactly what ads would go into school buses? Remember, most Broward school buses are used for elementary routes, as well as for middle and high schools. Cell phones? iPods? Abercrombie & Fitch? Maybe the NRA or Planned Parenthood?

Once again, the Broward County School Board is shirking its responsibilities and taking the easy way out. Great example for the kids.

Monday, August 08, 2005

What's in a Name? 

As much as it pains me to even appear to be sticking up for Florida State University, let me just say that the recently announced NCAA ban on Native American mascots at NCAA-sponsored tournaments is ill-conceived.

In some cases a college's mascot may reasonably be considered offensive, but in the case of FSU, its use of the nickname "Seminoles" has been endorsed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Beyond this, what of the other college mascots (the most obvious being the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish. There are plenty of others that someone might object to, however:
Albion College Britons
Wake Forest Deamon Deacons
San Francisco Dons
Central College Dutch
Providence College Friars
UC - Santa Barbara Gouchos
Luther College Norse
Whittier College Poets
Louisiana - Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns
Bethany College Swedes
University of Idaho Vandals
Oberlin College Yeomen
It seems the NCAA took the easy way out in issuing a blanket decree. I think they need to take another look at this policy.

UPDATE: The Gainesville Sun warns readers, "This may come as quite a shock, so you might want to put down your morning coffee and take a deep breath.

"The University of Florida's hometown newspaper is coming to the defense of FSU. That's right, we think Florida State, or more specifically, their mascot, is getting a bum rap."

The Naples Daily News agrees, as does the Tampa Tribune.

Not to mention the Pensacola News Journal.

Even JEB! gets on the bandwagon.

Another Magic City Blog 

Apparently Critical Miami has been around since April, but I just discovered this Florida blog today. Good stuff on Miami-Dade area, with plenty of great photos.

Be sure to visit.

We Don't Need No Stinking Oversight! 

The Lakeland Ledger points out that
. . . the record of the Bush administration is a history of privatization gone wrong. Time after time, attempts to achieve savings and efficiency by reducing state workers in favor of private contractors have resulted in more costs, less efficiency and the occasional scandal.
Which is why the Republican-controlled Legislature passed legislation this past session to impose more oversight on these private deals, and why Governor Bush vetoed the measure.

Unfortunately, the Ledger acknowledges that partisan politics (and ideology) will probably prevail, and there will be no real attempt to override the veto.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Thoroughly Failed Policy 

Today, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel ran an opinion piece by Wayne S. Smith, the former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, in which he takes the Bush administration to task for its misguided and counterproductive "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba."

Smith says the latest measures, such as appointing Caleb McCarry as the "transition coordinator for Cuba," do nothing to hasten the demise of the Castro regime, put genuine Cuban dissidents in a terrible position and harm only Americans.

Old Times There Are Not Forgotten 

The St. Petersburg Times' Philip Gailey remembers when Southern Baptists weren't all that different, in many ways, from today's Muslims.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Shell Game 

The Palm Beach Post notes another aspect of Florida's mismanagement of its university system.
Florida has lost one more gimmick from the state's attempt to not pay for higher education.

The phony windfall from out-of-state tuition is yielding the latest of diminishing returns from the disinvestment in Florida's public universities. For a decade, the Legislature has inflated tuition for graduate and nonresident students to subsidize below-market in-state tuition. That's how no-new-taxes legislators paid for tax cuts while appropriating an inadequate portion of what the 11 universities needed for new students and faculty.
Our universities are maybe the best example of the shell game the Republican legislators and Gov. Bush are playing -- kowtow to the right-wingers for whom any tax is anathema, but impose fees, fines and other increases, especially on those who don't have the political clout to do much about it.

Here's Another Fine Mess You've Got Us Into, JEB! 

Governor Bush's move to do away with the State Board of Regents is having unintended consequences. As a result of a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling (or nonruling, as the case may be), academic labor relations have been thrown into "disarray."

The More One Knows . . . 

Is Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy saying that education tends to make one less conservative? Seems that way:
While very high educations tend to make liberals more consistently liberal, very high educations tend to make conservatives less consistently conservative (and thus less extreme) on social issues. For this reason, those presidential nominees targeted as "outside the mainstream" are very probably not extreme at all. While they would be likely to be conservative on some issues, on some other issues they would be likely to take the liberal side of things.

This is a bit like highly educated bloggers: while supposedly "conservative" bloggers might support Bush's court nominees and the War on Terror, such "conservatives" often take the liberal side on some issues, such as perhaps abortion rights, gay rights, assisted suicide, and stem-cell research, and they might also believe in evolution, oppose mandatory school prayer, or favor the right to burn flags. Such a diversity of views among the highly educated left is much more rare.
Perhaps this is because the more knowledgeable you are, the more untenable it is to hold many of the conservative positions.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Design Recalls 

Gainesville Report has a good post on the issue of intelligent design.

Meanwhile, Blogger J at Peer Review chirps that if intelligent design can't be taught, neither should we teach Aristotle. Of course Aristotle is not taught as science but rather as philosophy, and I don't think the creationists would settle for that.

I still stand by my problem with intelligent design -- why wouldn't The Designer do a better job placing the male prostate?

Where It Began 

Sticks of Fire gives us a little historical information on Tampa's early history and on James Gadsen, an individual most people know little about but who played an important role in a number of historical events.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

By These You Shall Know Them 

Human Events recently polled the usual suspects who came up with a list of the "Ten Most Harmful Government Programs."

Just imagine the paradise we would live in if the following "harmful" programs were eliminated:
1. Internal Revenue Code ("Takes large sums of money from American workers...")
2. Social Security ("...designed to replace the family with the federal government as the principal means of providing financially for seniors who lack the savings to sustain themselves.")
3. Medicare ("...socialized health care for seniors..."
4. Tax Withholding ("...fund[s] a vastly expanded welfare state."
5. Medicaid (This "means that a large segment of the U.S. health-care industry is already socialized."
6. Endangered Species Act ("...has been used by environmentalists in their efforts to stop development and economically fruitful activity..."
7. Bilingual Education Grants ("Provides grants by formula to states for teaching 'limited English proficient' students.")
8. Title X Family Planning Funding ("...fund[s] clinics to distribute and promote contraceptives")
9. Corporation for Public Broadcasting ("... funds programming with a liberal bias")
10. Sugar Import Quotas and Subsidies - actually this is harmful, in the sense that it is a boondoggle.
Naturally no mention of how taxes will be levied and collected, the poor and sick cared for or how other social problems will be addressed. Oh, wait . . . I know:
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.
(via FloridaBlues)

Better To Remain Quiet . . . 

. . .and appear stupid than to speak up and remove all doubt.

Paper Blogs 

The St. Petersburg Times jumps into blogging with The Buzz, while the Miami Herald introduces Liz Donovan's new Informaniac.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Follow the [Lack of ] Money 

When Carl Hiaasen comments on what's happening in Miami, you'd better listen.

In his Sunday Miami Herald column on Art Teele Hiaasen notes:
It's a cliche to talk about wasted talent, but in Art's case it was true. Among South Florida's elected officials he stood out as immensely intelligent, affable and persuasive. He could be a charismatic advocate and a commanding public speaker.

Unfortunately, he was also an egomaniac, wittily arrogant on his best days and pompous on his worst. He probably earned as many enemies as friends, but that's not what brought him down.

It was money. Teele's personal finances were a disaster. At last count he was $1.7 million in the red, half owed in back taxes to Uncle Sam.

Frantic, perpetual indebtedness is likely what drove Teele to concoct the alleged schemes that led to his two recent indictments, with a third on the way.
This money problem ensnares many politicians, but some more than others. I hardly have any statistics to back me up, but I would venture a guess that black politicians are over-represented here. Not because they are as a group bad people, at least not when they start out, but rather because they are seduced by all the wealth that flies around government officials.

Now if you are a wealthy lawyer or bond broker, you may not be as tempted to directly enrich yourself -- steering business to your firm is good enough (and although on the edge, usually legal enough, too).

But many black politicians came from humble beginnings (there is no denying the legacy of segregation) and have risen to elected office as community activists, often with smarts but without a lucrative profession. It is the cause they represent that drives them forward, and at first they may even take pride in their situation -- at least they haven't sold out.

But the longer they stay in office the more difficult it is too keep that attitude, especially when people who are no smarter or harder working than you are inviting you on their yachts to lobby you on a development that will make them millions. Meanwhile you're trying to make ends meet and keep your seven year old Toyota running.

The lure of making some cash -- of being able to live at a level you know you would be at if your parents and grandparents had been given an even chance in the society of their day -- all too often clouds judgment. A tip on a good investment, a property purchased below market price, a few luxury items on the expense account are justified as "something I deserve." And in any case, just this once.

The tragedy is that these are not stupid people. I believe they know, at some level, that they are trapped. Their power and influence are totally tied to their elected office -- the minute they are no longer a commissioner or legislator or whatever, they are forgotten and back where they came from.

There's no excuse for betraying the public trust. But that doesn't mean one can't understand why it might happen. Or why, for some, going back to where you came from is not an option.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?