Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trouble in Troop B

It sure hasn’t been a good couple of months for Troop B of the Pennsylvania State Police. First, Trooper Ed Joyner gets ensnared in the whole Ben Roethlisberger mess, and now another trooper, Daniel Freeman, has been arrested on charges he tried to hire a suspected drug dealer to torch his girlfriend’s home. Freeman, who has been suspended for the past few months, certainly has a presumption of innocence. It's up to a court to decide whether he’s guilty of the arson-related charges. But this won’t be Freeman’s first time facing a judge from the wrong side of the bench. He was charged with DUI after running his vehicle into two parked cars on Route 40 in North Bethlehem Township in June 2008. His blood-alcohol content was double the legal limit. My question is this: Why was Freeman not immediately booted from the state police force? Shouldn’t people who are sworn to uphold the law be held to a higher standard than the average citizen? I'm a reasonable person. If someone gets pulled over and blows a .08 on the Breathalyzer, that's a mistake, and it probably can be forgiven, once. But when you're at twice the legal limit, you know damn well that you're too drunk to be behind the wheel. And then there's Joyner, who was working a side job providing security for Roethlisberger. You would think that a state trooper who had his name linked to the despicable behavior that allegedly went on in that bar in Milledgeville, Ga., would run far and fast away from the disgraced athlete and be very, very thankful that he was not fired for bringing disrepute to the force. But not Joyner. The state police rescinded the approval for him to work for Roethlisberger, and Joyner appealed the decision. That's just unreal. He's lucky the state police can't fire someone solely on the grounds of being dumb and/or arrogant. I guess Joyner figures that no matter what happens, his union will help him come out on top, and based on past history with unions and grievance proceedings, he may be right. The real shame of all this is that the image of many fine state troopers is taking an unfair beating in the court of public opinion. They deserve better.

Labels: , ,


Can anyone give me a single good reason why the NFL decided to hold the 2014 Super Bowl in the New York City-New Jersey area? The NFL has long had a policy of holding Super Bowls in warm-weather locales. Why is that being ignored in favor of the Big Apple? There are valid arguments for having the occasional Super Bowl in northern cities. Football is, after all, at its roots, an outdoor game. But I tend to side with the idea of giving the two teams that have reached each year's ultimate game the best possible conditions in which to play. While it's fun to watch the occasional snowy, muddy or fog-shrouded game, there's really no need to let the outcome of the Super Bowl be decided by Mother Nature. But if the NFL is going to give New York a Super Bowl in February, when that city could very well get socked with 2 feet of snow or be facing temperatures in the teens, then there's absolutely no valid reason why the Patriots, Steelers, Broncos and Packers shouldn't get to host a Super Bowl. Either stick with the old policy or open it up to everyone.

Labels: , ,

This and that

A few thoughts on stories in the news:

– I'm not one of those atheists who thinks "In God We Trust" should be removed from our money or that we should start reworking the Pledge of Allegiance, but I think a Fargo man has a point in his license plate dispute with the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Brian Magee is appealing a decision by the department’s Motor Vehicle Division to refuse his request for a license plate reading “ISNOGOD.” In his appeal, Magee notes that the state has allowed plates reading “PRZZGOD,” “ILOVGOD” and “TRI GOD,” among others. Magee’s views are no less valid than the ones expressed on the religious plates. The state should either issue Magee the plate he has requested or recall all the ones expressing religious sentiments. Fair is fair.

– After months of doing nothing, Wal-Mart finally agreed to pull a whole line of Miley Cyrus-brand necklaces and bracelets from its stores because of the health hazard they posed. The retailing giant had known since February, based on testing conducted at the behest of the Associated Press, that the jewelry contained high levels of cadmium, a known carcinogen that also has been linked to bone softening, kidney failure and negative effects on brain development in children. The AP quoted Wal-Mart as claiming that while the jewelry was not intended for kids, “it is possible that a few younger consumers may seek it out in stores.” Not intended for kids? C'mon. It's cheap jewelry branded with the name of a young star of the kids show "Hannah Montana.” This whole story is black eye for Wal-Mart.

– Some of you might remember the name Anthony Hauser. He's the Minnesota man whose teenage son, Daniel, went on the lam last year rather than have traditional medical treatment for cancer. His family favored a nuts and berries approach to curing the illness, but Daniel eventually underwent chemotherapy and reportedly is doing well. Now it’s Anthony Hauser who is fighting what is described as a rare, aggressive form of leukemia, and while he's currently relying on a dietary treatment, he won't rule out having chemotherapy, if needed. My guess is that it most certainly will be needed, if the elder Hauser wants to save his own skin, and it seems that he's a lot less resistant to conventional medicine now that it's his butt in a sling. The Hauser family also notes that it's suffering “severe financial hardships” because Anthony Hauser hasn’t been able to work much. The next sentence in the AP story was the one that caught my attention. It notes that Anthony Hauser and his wife recently had their ninth child. The Hausers certainly have the right to be fruitful and multiply, but when you make the decision to have nine kids, I think you forfeit the right to whine about financial troubles.

– If you needed any more evidence that your state government is out of control, here it is. An AP story this morning noted that the governor is disbanding a special unit within the state Department of Transportation whose sole task is to push through paperwork to help state lawmakers curry favor with voters. The unit came to light through the investigation into the legislative corruption scandal. A spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell says the 35 workers in the unit are being reassigned within PennDOT, and PennDOT will continue to help lawmakers with their special requests. Let me get this straight. Every one of these unnecessary jobs is being preserved, and the agency will still be doing the lawmakers’ busy work? This is asinine. And wasteful. But it gets worse. The report from the panel doing the legislative investigation also noted that the House Democratic and Republican caucuses spend nearly $1 million a year to employ dozens of people who work to, in the words of the AP, “expedite processing of mostly routine PennDOT paperwork for businesses and other constituents.” It's time that our state lawmakers quit spending their time figuring out ways to pander to voters in order to get re-elected and start doing their real duty. And their main duty, really the only one that is constitutionally mandated, is to produce a budget by June 30. I don't think I'm going to hold my breath on that one. There's a stench in Harrisburg, and the more we learn, the smell just gets worse and worse.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bums from both parties

I'm not sure which one of these guys is the most despicable, but Congressman Mark Souder and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal are both on about the same level as whale poop. Let's start with Souder, shown in the bottom photo. Turns out, the "family values," evangelical Christian Republican from Indiana is a fraud. He's the latest member of the holier-than-thou-oops Hall of Shame. The hypocrite congressman, who said all the "right" things about gay people, abortion and abstinence couldn't keep his own pants on. Souder got caught having an affair with a female staff member, a staffer who once worked with him producing a video about the virtues of abstinence-only sex education. Hah. Nice. He has decided to resign and renew his "walk with the Lord." Souder might want to pick up the pace, because the Lord sure lost him on their last stroll. Then there's the sorry story of Blumenthal, who currently is running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. Blumenthal spoke on several occasions about his proud service with the Marines in Vietnam. Just one problem. He was never in Vietnam. In reality, Blumenthal was granted about a half-dozen deferments that enabled him to go to school at Harvard and a fancy school in England. When it finally looked as if was running out of deferments, he managed to snag a spot in the Marine Reserves, greatly reducing any chance of him ending up in the war zone. Blumenthal explained that he "misspoke" or "misplaced my words." Bull. He's a liar. Plain and simple. Blumenthal also said he wasn't going to allow anyone to "impugn my service." They don't have to, dummy. You did it yourself. And this is not scientific by any means, but when you look at the photos of these two sorry excuses for public servants, does the word "weasels" spring to mind? It did for me. Bottom line, Blumenthal has to be considered the most despicable. Souder is just the latest in a long line of "family values" frauds. He only hurt himself, the other woman and his family. Blumenthal has disgraced the memory of all those men and women who gave their lives by actually going to Vietnam. Anyone who votes for him should be ashamed of themselves.

Labels: , , , ,

Interesting outcomes

For a primary in an off-year election, there were plenty of intriguing races Tuesday. In one of the high-profile contests, state Rep. Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg, held off two Democratic challengers to win renomination. DeWeese's troubles and dwindling influence in Harrisburg have been well-documented, but it appears as if DeWeese's home folks will stick by him unless he happens to go from the state House to the "big house." Even then, I'm not so sure. In the race for the remainder of the term of late U.S. Rep. Jack Murtha, a former aide to the congressman, Democrat Mark Critz, scored a fairly easy victory over Republican newcomer Tim Burns. The race had been seen as a toss-up going into Tuesday's voting. Burns gets another change in November, when he and Critz will square off again, this time with a full term on the line. The decision by Burns and the GOP to focus almost solely on linking Critz to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't seem to resonate with voters. It will be interesting to see if Burns pursues a different strategy in the next election. In the big race for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, Congressman Joe Sestak put a pretty fair beating on longtime Sen. Arlen Specter. It wasn't that long ago that Sestak was trailing Specter by 30 points in opinion polls. But relentless television advertising portraying Specter as a political opportunist interested only in continuing his own career did the trick. Specter sank like a rock. What are your thoughts on these races and others from Tuesday night?

Labels: ,

Can't we all just drive smarter?

It seems there has been a rash of deadly accidents lately involving people from our area, and I'm guessing that most of them could have been prevented if people had been paying better attention to the way they were driving. But in at least one of those cases, according to police, a deliberate might have been involved. Two young people were killed last Saturday night when a 19-year-old man driving on Route 50 near Hickory tried to pass another vehicle and struck the victims' vehicle head-on. The teenager passed on a double-yellow line, according to state police. How many accidents, fatal and otherwise, can be attributed to people who decide that the laws and rules of the road just don't apply to them? I travel Route 844 daily, and some of the driving I see on that road would curl your hair. People speeding 15 or 20 mph over the speed limit, tailgating the folks in front of them and them passing them wherever they damn well please, double-yellow lines be damned. Crest of a hill? No problem, they think. What happens when a deer jumps off a bank as one of these idiots is tailgating someone? People are dying because other people are idiots. And that's a shame. Maybe the penalties for these types of violations aren't strict enough. But unless these folks go to jail, it really won't matter. Take their licenses? They don't care. They drive anyway. Perhaps the only way the rest of us will be safe is if those who deliberately put others in peril are put away for a long enough time to make them think twice about doing it again.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Is that the bunt sign, or is Coach crossing himself?

There’s plenty of praying in baseball. Any time a pitcher faces Albert Pujols with the bases loaded, you can bet he’s praying to somebody. But that’s a personal, private matter. Kids on a Little League team in Oregon didn’t have a choice. But one parent had the guts to say something about it. The AP reports that Mike Miles pulled his 10-year-old daughter off the team and complained to league officials that the coach, Chris Palmer, forced religion on the children by leading prayers and quoting Scripture before games. The response of Medford National Little League was to keep Palmer as coach of the Indians team and kick Miles off its board of directors. Now there‘s religious tolerance for you. Said Miles, who once was an assistant coach for Palmer, “All I wanted was for my daughter to sign up and play baseball this spring, not to have religion shoved down her throat. There’s a time and place for prayer, and baseball isn’t it.” Well said, Mr. Miles. Palmer tried to explain that the prayers were “not a religious tool” and were simply designed to “calm the team down, focus them and bring them together in unity.” Really? What it sounds like to me is, well, what comes out of the back end of a bull. Prayer is not a religious tool? Since when? Palmer also claimed that no one was forced to join in the prayers. Again, really? Do you remember being 10 years old? No 10-year-old kid wants to be the “different” one who turns his back on the prayer, or walks out of the dugout or complains. Palmer had what amounted to a captive audience for his religious show. And it’s just wrong. For one thing, it’s wrong to put a kid in the position of participating in one sort of prayer when his family might practice another religion, or none at all. Maybe next year, the Medford league should scrap the name Indians and call the team the God Squad. At least then, parents would know what to expect.

Labels: , ,

Our failure in Iraq

It has now been more than seven years since the invasion of Iraq, and it’s getting harder and harder to hang onto any shred of hope that this is all going to turn out well. Where do we stand today? Well, 84 people were murdered and hundreds more were wounded today in attacks across Iraq. It has been more than two months since the March 7 election, and not only does Iraq not have a new government, it doesn't even have final results of the balloting. The closest thing they have to an emerging government came to the fore last week, when it was announced that two Shiite blocs have allied with hopes of running the country. Those would be the two Shiite blocs supported by none other than Iran. And it gets worse. The two groups have signed a deal that would give Shiite clerics the final say in political disputes between the blocs. Isn’t that just great. Thanks to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the other chickenhawks in that administration, a secular dictatorship that did not allow fanatic Shiites to gain a foothold is now on the brink of becoming an Islamic theocracy. Nice work, George. I'm not trying to argue that Saddam Hussein was a lovely man, but he certainly provided a counterpoint to Iran's strength in the region. Now, Iran may be running Iran and Iraq. And let's not forget that the waging of this war of choice in Iraq was accomplished only by virtually abandoning the war in Afghanistan. Now Iraq seems very much on the brink of descending into bloody chaos, and our prospects of ever turning things around long-term in Afghanistan appear almost as bleak. If these misadventures had come with little cost to the United States, that would be one thing. But we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars we can ill afford on the war in Iraq. And Bush can scrub his hands 24/7, but he can’t wash off the blood of 4,000 American servicemen, servicewomen and Department of Defense civilians. That stain should haunt him always.

Labels: , , ,

This and that

A few subjects from the past week:

– After Ted Haggard, Sen. Larry Craig, Rep. Mark Foley and many more, we really shouldn't be too surprised when anti-gay ministers, activists and politicians find themselves in "interesting” positions, but a new story out of Florida is just too funny not to mention. The Miami New Times reports that George Alan Rekers, a co-founder of the Family Research Council and author of the book “Growing Up Straight: What Families Should Know About Homosexuality,” was spotted at an airport returning from a 10-day trip to London and Madrid with a young male prostitute. The escort, “Lucien,” described himself on the website as “sensual, wild and up for anything.” But Rekers said he didn't hire the young man for any of that gay sex stuff. No, siree. He explained to the newspaper that he was recovering from surgery and couldn’t lift luggage. Hence, the hiring of the young Puerto Rican gentleman. I guess tipping a porter or a bellhop just wouldn't do. Rekers, by the way, was supposedly pushing his and the young man’s suitcases when seen at the airport. But maybe that caused his condition to flare up, because Miami New Times reports that since that London-Madrid getaway, Rekers has reportedly e-mailed “Lucien” about a future trip to Rome. Apparently, the young fellow did a bang-up job of handling Rekers’ bag. Rekers’ name, by the way, has now been removed from the Family Research Council’s Internet site.

– I'm an “American Idol” fan, but I usually DVR the "results show” and watch it later so I can zip through not only the commercials but some of the “special” performances of current music stars that are part of the program. I wish I had not been subjected to last week’s offering by Lady Gaga, but the missus is a fan, so I unfortunately had to witness Ms. Gaga performing her new single, “Alejandro.” Mere words can hardly explain this entertainment spectacular. There were some half-naked men jumping about as if they had been Tasered at a Philadelphia Phillies game, and Ms. Gaga, herself, looked as if she had become entangled in a combination of giant spider webs, fish nets and a few of my late grandmother’s doilies. As for the "music,” I can only say that it would have been perfect for use as psychological torture against Guantanamo Bay detainees. And it went on, and on, and on. But it didn't go on long enough to suit Ms. Gaga, who reportedly was miffed that only about five minutes of her display was aired. I couldn't imagine sitting through any more of it, but I guess we missed something. And for that, I thank the producers of "American Idol.”

– I have long been of the opinion that our children are overscheduled. They have too many activities and not enough down time. But some high school football coaches want to make it even worse. A group of high school coaches met last week with Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt and his Penn State counterpart, Joe Paterno. And one purpose of the meeting was to win the college coaches’ support for allowing spring football practices for high school teams in Pennsylvania. Is it not enough that high school football players have to begin practice weeks before the start of the school year? Or that they put in hour upon hour upon hour of practice during the season? This is ridiculous. The kids are already making enough of a commitment of their time and effort to this sport. And what about those who might like to play a different sport in the spring? Are they just out of luck? Enough is enough.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fire away!

A stupid teenager got the surprise of his young life Monday night when he decided to hop onto the field at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game and cavort around like a boob. After running from security guards for a few seconds, the kid made the mistake of wandering too close to a Philadelphia police officer who quickly put him on the ground with a shot from a Taser. That’s an actual photo of the incident above. Some people are saying the officer went overboard, but I applaud him. When somebody runs onto an athletic field, authorities have no idea what his intentions are. It was just a few years back that a couple of jabronies climbed out of the stands at a Chicago White Sox game and viciously attacked a Kansas City Royals first-base coach. The lesson in the Philly case is this: If you're going to act like a horse’s ass, be prepared to suffer the consequences.

Labels: , ,

Say what?

I'm guessing most of you aren’t subscribers to Pediatrics magazine, so I'll give you a major scoop from the latest issue. The folks at Pediatric are reporting on a study that finds ... drum roll, please ... fat kids get picked on more than skinny kids in school. I know, it's a stunner. I'm wondering how much good could be done with all the money that is spent on “no sh!#” studies. I mean, there have been studies financed to determine that exercise helps people lose weight and that people are not as honest online as they are in person. And how much money was spent over many decades to find out that smoking is bad for us? Holy cow. They could have given me a million dollars, and I would have been glad to tell them that sucking hot, chemical-laden smoke into one's lungs could have a negative effect. I hear the folks at Pediatrics have a blockbuster coming next month. Word has it that their researchers have determined that learning to crawl and walk upright improves babies’ mobility. You heard it here first.


He's got a point

Tim James, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Alabama, is promising in a campaign ad that if he wins in November, he'll push to offer the state’s driver’s test only in English. Currently, the test is given in a wide variety of languages. James is claiming that it will save the state money. That's a pretty questionable assertion, but I do agree with his central premise. If traffic signs are in English, and if those overhead highway message boards give important information in English, why shouldn't people who want to drive in this country be expected to speak English before they're given a license? But while James is at it, if he really is committed to improving the caliber of driver on Alabama drivers, maybe he could work to repeal the state law that lets first cousins marry. It never hurts to freshen up the gene pool.

Labels: , ,