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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

John Wilson and The Big(Old?) Story

I was watching Fox News The Big story and they had a segment on about The Thomas Jones story. Jones is a wiccan in Indiana who was ordered by a judge not to raise his son in the same beliefs. There was some kind of divorce/custody settlement.

The thing is, I heard about this a month ago. It sounded like real old news to me, so I googled and yahoo news search. What did I come up with? Stories at least 4 weeks old.

Is John Wilson and Fox News that far behind? Or is it something else. I've seen a news segment on The Big Story once before that was used on a prior occasion. Is it that slow a news day Wilson has to recycle old news? Is he bored? Or am I wrong?

Outside the Beltway Trackback

Do they all look alike to TGC?

The Golf Channel has photos up on their website from last weekend's US Open. Click on this one. It is pretty embarassing when you wrongly caption the winner of a Major Championship. That's Birdie Kim not Young Jo.

The Case of the Missing Applause

The NY Times is wondering why the lack of applause the other night when President Bush made his speech at Ft. Bragg. Was it because our nation's military is turning against it's commander in chief?


So what happened to the applause?

When President Bush visits military bases, he invariably receives a foot-stomping, loud ovation at every applause line. At bases like Fort Bragg - the backdrop for his Tuesday night speech on Iraq - the clapping is often interspersed with calls of "Hoo-ah," the military's all-purpose, spirited response to, well, almost anything.

So the silence during his speech was more than a little noticeable, both on television and in the hall. On Wednesday, as Mr. Bush's repeated use of the imagery of the Sept. 11 attacks drew bitter criticism from Congressional Democrats, there was a parallel debate under way about whether the troops sat on their hands because they were not impressed, or because they thought that was their orders.

With Iraq once more atop the political agenda, the Senate on Wednesday gave hasty approval to an additional $1.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, to cover a budget gap caused in part by unexpected demands for health care by returning Iraqi veterans. The administration has reversed itself, and now plans to seek emergency money from both the House and the Senate. Before the Senate voted unanimously to raise the spending for health care, the head of the veterans administration returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to tell House members that, contrary to his testimony the previous day, the agency needs emergency financing for this year and the administration will be submitting a request.

Democrats had seized on the veterans' spending issue as another example of the administration's mishandling of the war.

Republicans moved quickly to respond to what was becoming a significant embarrassment.
Capt. Tom Earnhardt, a public affairs officer at Fort Bragg who participated in the planning for the president's trip, said that from the first meetings with White House officials there was agreement that a hall full of wildly cheering troops would not create the right atmosphere for a speech devoted to policy and strategy.

"The guy from White House advance, during the initial meetings, said, 'Be careful not to let this become a pep rally,' " Captain Earnhardt recalled in a telephone interview. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, confirmed that account.

As the message drifted down to commanders, it appears that it may have gained an interpretation beyond what the administration's image-makers had in mind. "This is a very disciplined environment," said Captain Earnhardt, "and some guys may have taken it a bit far," leaving the troops hesitant to applaud.

A better question may be- Why can't the NY Times stop whining and report the news instead?

There is no question about the military's loyalty. They have a mission and its to protect their country and their families. Besides do you really think they want the Democrats in office considering how well they treat the armed services?

Captain Ed is right when he says the Times would equally be pooh pahing if there had been applause. The reasoning being the event was rigged.

Outside the Beltway notes his being uncomfortable when politicians use the military, firemen, police etc at public events. Saying its often cynical. All politicians do these groups or others. Like mothers and their children, minorities etc when it fits the message they want to get across.

This 'controversy' will last at most three days.

It's never about the money or what a load of bull

According to the Sun Sentinel a wrongful death suit has been filed in Broward County by an attorney representing the family of Todd Fatta. Deputy Fatta was killed when he tried to serve a warrant on Kenneth Wilk for posessing child pornography. The Broward County Sheriff's Office and Mr. Wilk are listed as co-defendants in the suit that is asking for no specific amount of damages.

Don't you just love lawyers when they say it's never about the money. Andrew Yaffa who is representing Dep. Fatta's parents said just that. It's all about procedures. What a crock. Mr. Yaffa was right on one thing, no amount of money will bring Todd Yatta back to his family. My condolences to the Yatta family.

BSO sued by family of deputy killed while serving warrants
By Kevin Smith
Staff Writer Posted June 30 2005

The man on the other side of the door was well-armed and wanted to kill a police officer, and the Broward Sheriff's Office knew it, but the agency still sent Deputy Todd Fatta through the door to his death, according to a lawsuit filed this week.

The wrongful-death suit against the Sheriff's Office was filed Tuesday morning in Broward Circuit Court by Fatta's parents. Fatta, 33, died Aug. 19 when he was shot in the chest while serving warrants at the Fort Lauderdale home of Kenneth Wilk, who was later charged with murder. Wilk also is a defendant in the lawsuit.

Attorney Andrew Yaffa said his goal was primarily to identify the mistakes he believed contributed to Fatta's death. The suit didn't specify what damages were sought by Fatta's parents and Yaffa said the truth was more important to the family than money.

"I could offer them 10 million dollars versus five seconds with their son, and they would take the five seconds," Yaffa said. "No amount of money in the world could replace what they have lost."

Sheriff's Office spokesman Jim Leljedal declined to comment on the suit.

Wilk and partner Kelly Ray Jones lived together at the home when Jones was arrested July 15 on child pornography charges. A SWAT team assisted in the arrest because Jones' probation officer told investigators there were guns in the home.

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

One of today's winners is Texas Ranger pitcher Kenny Rogers who shoved two cameraman who were trying to film him. One of whom had to be taken to the hospital. If MLB is smart, Rogers would be suspended the rest of the season without pay and someone would press criminal charges. Its all on film. Grow up Kenny!

Also getting knucklehead awards are Texas GM John Hart and team owner Tom Hicks who seem to want to sweep this under the rug. Set an example instead, release the buffoon.

ARLINGTON, Texas - Kenny Rogers' angry close-up with a couple of television cameramen put one of them in the hospital and could result in a suspension for the Texas Rangers ace. Rogers shoved two cameramen before the Rangers' game against Los Angeles on Wednesday in a videotaped tirade that included throwing a camera to the ground and threatening to break more.

"Kenny is having anger issues right now," Rangers general manager John Hart said. "I don't know what's going on inside. We're responding to something that's very unusual."

Rogers, who missed his last start with a broken pinkie he sustained during an outburst earlier this month, lashed out at the cameramen as they filmed him walking to the field for pregame stretching. He wasn't scheduled to pitch and was sent home by the club following the incidents.
The Rangers held a clubhouse meeting before the game to address the situation. After the game, a 7-6 victory over the Angels in 11 innings, they lent their support to Rogers.

"It's something we're going to keep in-house," said Gary Matthews Jr., who hit a two-run homer for the Rangers. "It's going to be between Kenny and the front office."

Hart said late Wednesday that the team contacted Major League Baseball, and wouldn't say whether the team would suspend Rogers.

Hart said he had talked to Rogers and "Kenny obviously realizes his actions were incorrect."
"His comment to me was, `I didn't handle this right. I'm frustrated. My integrity and toughness is being called into question,'" Hart said.

The 40-year-old left-hander first shoved Fox Sports Net Southwest photographer David Mammeli, telling him: "I told you to get those cameras out of my face."

Rogers then approached a second cameraman. He wrestled the camera from Larry Rodriguez of Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW, threw it to the ground and kicked it.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound pitcher saw two other cameramen who were recording from the Rangers' dugout and walked toward them. He did not make contact with the men, who were backing away.

"I'll break every ... one of them," Rogers said before he was escorted to the clubhouse by catcher Rod Barajas.

The Rangers sent Rogers home about an hour later.

KDFW news director Maria Barrs said paramedics took Rodriguez to an Arlington hospital.

"He does have quite a bit of pain, in his shoulder and his arm and his leg," Barrs said. Rodriguez was treated and released.

Fox Sports Net Southwest spokesman Ramon Alvarez said Mammeli wasn't injured.

Footage shot by Dallas-Fort Worth station KTVT shows Rogers pushing Rodriguez's camera, which goes over the photographer's head and falls to the ground. As Rodriguez puts the camera back on his shoulder, Rogers approaches again, pushing the lens away and having words with the photographer.

As players begin to intervene, Rogers pulls the camera to the ground and kicks it before walking away.

Rodriguez said that when he picked up the camera the second time, his intentions were to keep getting footage of Rogers.

"I figured since now he vented that he was all good, but the second time was just a little bit too much," he said in an interview on KDFW.

"There's no question he was upset. I don't understand why we were the ... I don't know if we were the stem of the problem or what," he said. "I don't think we did anything wrong."

Texas lost eight of nine entering Wednesday night's game.

"I think it demonstrated an appalling lack of control," Barrs said. "The team doing poorly is no excuse for assaulting a guy who's just doing his job."

Arlington police spokeswoman Christy Gilfour said the department was investigating. No charges had been filed, she said.

"What Kenny did was wrong and we won't condone it," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. "It will be handled internally."

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Prison inmate collects 3.5 million in bogus tax refunds from the IRS

Just another indication of how dysfunctional most of our government is. No one caught on this for over 10 years! Below is the Yahoo News article.

By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, AP Economics Writer 55 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - A South Carolina prison inmate told a rapt House panel Wednesday about how he defrauded the U.S. government of $3.5 million by filing bogus tax returns.

The man, an anonymous 37-year-old inmate dubbed "John Doe," testified behind a partition to prevent him from being photographed or videotaped during the House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight hearing.

He said he started out by filing phony returns for 10 inmates in 1991, which netted $4,200 to $5,400. He kept a $1,000 commission on each return.

"Over the years, I filed six to seven hundred returns," Doe said. "The total dollar amount would be approximately $3.5 million, face value," of which he netted $600,000 to $700,000.

Doe said inmates spent most of the ill-gotten tax return money to buy illegal drugs.

"The money and drugs eventually lead to beatings, stabbings and extortion," he said. "With the money I personally made, I often looked out for poor or indigent inmates who got no help from home." But he conceded he also used the money to buy sneakers, a color TV and "lots of drugs."

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that 15 percent of all tax fraud is committed by prison inmates.

"Tax fraud in any form is unacceptable and illegal," said the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn. "But it is particularly outrageous when it is committed by prison inmates while they are behind bars."

In the typical scam, the inmate fills out a tax form with phony income and withholding information, and then claims a large refund.

Nancy J. Jardini, chief of criminal investigation at the IRS, said one obstacle to cracking down on the problem is a section of the IRS code which prevents the agency from disclosing tax information, with a few exceptions.

"None of the exceptions permit the IRS to refer refund fraud information to prison officials for the imposition of administrative sanctions," she said.

Scott Maddox follies continue

The former Democratic State Chairman who I blogged about here and here in regards to his mismanagement of party finances has since tried to cast the blame on a former bookkeeper who worked for the party. This just isn't going to work, because now The Tallahassee Democrat reports Mr. Maddox was late in paying his property taxes. His excuse- The payment was sent to the wrong address. And I'm Alexander Hamilton.

Mr. Maddox withdraw from the Governor's race. You're a state-wide laughingstock and no one in their right mind will vote for you.

Maddox tardy with his taxesHe says bill sent to wrong address
By Bill Cotterell
The IRS tax levy that froze the Florida Democratic Party's bank account and triggered a forensic audit of the struggling party isn't the only tax trouble that has dogged Scott Maddox in his campaign for governor.

Maddox said Friday he paid $2,632.47 in overdue Leon County property taxes on an east-side home his company, Spectrum Resources, bought in 2002 from Debbie Griffin-Bruton, the Florida Democratic Party employee whose error led to the party's troubles with the IRS.

Maddox said he paid the taxes Monday, after the Tallahassee Democrat asked him about it and other financial foul-ups during his tenure as chairman of both the state and Leon County Democratic parties.

He also released a contrite letter from Griffin-Bruton, praising his management ability and acknowledging that she didn't tell him of financial problems at the state and county level. She said she will quit Thursday as comptroller of the state party and treasurer of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee.

"As you know, my husband John was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's," Griffin-Bruton wrote to Maddox. "His condition has been a constant drain on my time and resources, which eventually ended with my placing John in a long-term care facility."

She said she "made several honest mistakes" as comptroller of the state party and treasurer of the county unit, "including the non-payment of payroll taxes for the Florida Democratic Party and delinquency in filing reports and late fees for the Leon County DEC." She added that she had not told Maddox because of "my embarrassment over my mistakes."

New party chairman Karen Thurman last week arranged a $200,000 payment to the IRS for back taxes, Social Security payments, interest and penalties for the middle six months of 2003 - a period when Maddox was chairman. Current leaders of the Leon County DEC learned Monday night that, while Maddox was also county chairman, Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho's office had fined the county party $10,500 for late filing of a post-election financial report.

"Throughout the past week, I have accepted responsibility for the errors of my staff," Maddox said. "Now, knowing more of the story of Debbie's actions and misrepresentations, I must accept responsibility for having placed my faith in a person who clearly did not live up to my high expectations."

Courthouse records indicate Griffin-Bruton and her husband, John Bruton, sold their home to Spectrum Resources for $135,000 in the fall of 2002, when Maddox was mayor and she was financial director of the City Parks and Recreation Department. Knowing Bruton, a former city policeman, was suffering from Alzheimer's, Maddox said he allowed them to stay in the home for a token rent - which he said he waived completely last year when John Bruton went into long-term care.

Maddox said the Brutons were old friends of his family and that Debbie Griffin-Bruton could continue living in the home despite the current tax penalties and fines. She figured in an amusing January 2000 news story when Griffin-Bruton and Maddox encountered two young men on Adams Street who had urinated on the mayor's truck - prompting city scrutiny of the closing hours of bars that cater to college students.

He said the county sent tax bills to his previous address on Plantation Road, although he moved from that home last June and sold it in April to Chabad Lubavitch. He said he has asked Tax Collector Doris Maloy to send him a letter attesting that tax bills weren't sent to his new home in Stonywood Farms.

"We got no notice about it being in arrears," Maddox told the Democrat.

Although the tax amount is small and other Maddox real estate ventures are up-to-date on the tax rolls, it's the kind of thing that can come back to haunt a former mayor who bills himself as a no-nonsense administrator. The property-tax tardiness could be ammunition for the kind of attack advertising and negative phone banks that spring up in the late days of a campaign.

Senator Inouye says votes there to pass Akaka bill

The Honolulu Advertiser reports today. I have written my observations and opinions in a prior blog post. All I have to add is I find it dismaying if predictable that all 44 Democratic Senators are supporting this stupid legislation. The Dems obviously have no common sense any more. Will President Bush have the sense to veto it?

Outside the Beltway trackback

By Dennis Camire
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — A bill recognizing Native Hawaiians could come up for a Senate vote as soon as the week of July 18-22, and Hawai'i's two senators said yesterday they believe there are enough votes for it to pass.

"It's supposed to come up," U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye said. "We'll have a majority."

In addition to Inouye, key senators are predicting they'll have the votes to pass the legislation, with six Republican senators joining 44 Democrats in support.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the bill's chief sponsor and namesake, said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist referred to a commitment he made last year to schedule a vote before Aug. 7 and said the only time left was in July.

"They were debating whether we should have the first week or the second week," Akaka said.

"The leader (Frist) even asked me and I said sooner rather than later in the month."

Akaka's bill picked up additional Republican support yesterday with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., saying he will vote for it on the floor.

McCain, who had raised questions about the bill in the past, said he will vote for the bill primarily because it has the support of so many Hawai'i officials, including Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.

"Here in Washington, it's hard for us to go against the view of the governor, the Legislature — Republican and Democrat — the senators and the congressmen," said McCain, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

The legislation, originally introduced in 2000, calls for the federal government to recognize Native Hawaiians in the same way that it recognizes American Indians and Native Alaskans.

The measure would create a framework for Native Hawaiian governance, which would be able to negotiate with the United States and Hawai'i over disposition of Native Hawaiian assets.
Support questioned

Richard Rowland, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said he was surprised by McCain's support of the Akaka bill.

"It certainly sounds like he's like many others that need a little education on the bill and what it says," Rowland said. "It would seem to me that as a senator, he should be concerned about the constitutionality (of the bill). Is it constitutional and is it good for the United States?"

Rowland added: "I think maybe we better see about getting him better educated."
The institute, Rowland said, does not know if the bill has enough votes for passage this summer but is not counting supporters and opponents. While he and other institute members are bothered by many aspects of the bill, it is not lobbying to defeat it, he said.

"Our main thrust here is education," he said. "We want to make sure this gets full disclosure. We don't think the opposing side has been aired, hardly at all."

For instance, when Hawai'i became a state, he said, there was a vote among residents. "Here, they're talking about starting a complete, separate sovereign entity without a vote of the people, any of the people."

Rowland said the institute "would be pleased with a delay in the vote until there was more time for discussing."

With McCain, the bill has six Republican votes. The other five — Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota — are co-sponsors of the bill.

With the backing of all 44 Democratic senators and the one independent — Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont — the bill would have at least 51 votes when it gets to the floor.

Passport Fraud

There's a fascinating and disturbing article in the NY Times today about passports being issued without routine criminal checks or checking of identification documents.

Will this nation ever learn the threats we face today? Or will it take another terrorist attack, one possibly many times worse than 9-11 to shake this nation from its complacency. I think its going to take another attach. How many people will have to die because our government isn't doing the job they are supposed to be doing?

Published: June 29, 2005
WASHINGTON, June 28 - The names of more than 30 fugitives, including 9 murder suspects and one person on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted list, did not trigger any warnings in a test of the nation's passport processing system, federal auditors have found.

Insufficient oversight by the State Department allows criminals, illegal immigrants and suspected terrorists to fraudulently obtain a United States passport far too easily, according to a report on the test by the Government Accountability Office to be released Wednesday.

The lapses occurred because passport applications are not routinely checked against comprehensive lists of wanted criminals and suspected terrorists, according to the report, which was provided to The New York Times by an official critical of the State Department who had access to it in advance. For example, one of the 67 suspects included in the test managed to get a passport 17 months after he was first placed on an F.B.I. wanted list, the report said.

The State Department also too often fails to aggressively pursue leads that could allow the government to catch black-market sellers of fake identification documents essential to getting a fraudulent passport, said Michael Johnson, a former State Department security official.

Once issued, a passport typically becomes a critical tool for illegal immigrants who are seeking work or who want to travel internationally, as well as for people involved in drug smuggling, money laundering, Social Security fraud and even terrorism, the federal auditors said.

"A fraudulent passport can enable a holder to conceal his true identity and his citizenship," said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "These are exactly the kinds of problems that allowed the terrorists to attack our country."

The security committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the subject of passport fraud on Wednesday.

State Department officials said they were already moving to expand the crosschecking of passport applications against more complete lists of suspected criminals and terrorists. But they disputed reports that the department had been lax in its investigation of suspected fraud.

They never learn

From today's PB Post Metro Report

A Boca Raton firm faces some $100,000 in fines for allegedly calling people who are on the state's do-not-call list. In a suit filed Tuesday in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is asking a judge to order Majestic Mortgage to stop calling people who have asked that their phone numbers be off limits to solicitors. The state agency is also asking that the Glades Road firm be fined up to $10,000 for each improper call. The agency submitted a list of 10 state residents who Majestic called between March and May who had asked that their numbers be blocked. No one from Majestic could be reached for comment.

Majestic Mortgage
5550 Glades Rd # 413,
Boca Raton, FL 561-367-1553

It never fails to amaze me how dumb companies or people can be. With the do not call list, the telemarketing law of 1991 and Florida state laws these people keep calling. And it isn't always con artists either. A major repair company here keeps making these phone calls. They are totally ignorant of the law. You can sue them in small claims court. People make money doing just that.

If a company won't respect the law, don't do business with them.

Keep them to yourself Ms. Book

In Volusia County Elizabeth Book has sucessfully fought in court to have the right to display her recipies in public this coming Saturday. This is reported in today's Orlando Sentinel.

On Saturday, Elizabeth Book plans to doff her blouse next to 3 statues at the Peabody Auditorium.
By Jeff Libby
Sentinel Staff Writer
June 29, 2005

DAYTONA BEACH -- Elizabeth Book, the stay-at-home mom with a rose tattoo, has won the right to bare her breasts in her ongoing fight to go shirtless anywhere men can.

On Saturday at noon, the 40-something "top-free" revolutionary plans to demonstrate her right to protest by dropping her top at the Peabody Auditorium next to three statues of women nude from the waist up.

"I will be as top-free as the statues," Book said Monday in an e-mail to the nudists and naturists who have gathered to support her cause. "This is not over until Daytona is forced to recognize the unconstitutionality of their ordinances and statutes aimed at the American woman's breasts."

Daytona Beach says Book's victory in court June 21 was only temporary and probably will be appealed."She should probably save her exuberance for a time when all the appeals have ended," Assistant City Attorney Greg McDole said. "There are a number of appeals left and a number of years before this is a binding precedent."

I always find it amazing what people think they have a constitutional right to do in public. Miss Book I have three words for you. GET A LIFE!

The Knuckleheads of the Day award

Today's winner is Chuck Mock and all owners of wild and dangerous animals who keep them as pets. It was reported yesterday that Russell Lala, a 10-year old Royalton Minnesota boy will be a quadripelegic for life after he was attacked by two of the beasts owned by Mr. Mock.

In the case of Mr. Mock these animals were registered with the state. I don't a flying leap if they were, these are wild animals who shouldn't be in the care of anyone but a zoo. Attacks like the one on the Lala boy are becoming far too common because there are some ill educated morons out there who think these animals are cute. They are a menace!

Where is the MSM on this issue? What was it less than two years ago right here in Palm Beach county where the nitwit 4th rate Tarzan actor had one of his cats escape and get killed. The MSM was all over that story, Poor Bobo and it's owner. So why aren't they calling for a end to this idiotic practice now? Can someone tell me.

Update- On June 30th the Sun-Sentinel correctly editorialized that "State and federal laws, clearly designed for professionally operated zoos and preserves, must be tightened to prevent oddballs like Sipek from indulging dangerous obsessions. Palm Beach County, too, should outlaw the animals except in bona-fide zoos."

Where is the dramamine?

I am certainly in need of some. Try reading the Palm Beach Post's June 29th Eminent domain editorial and you will know why.

High court tears down property-rights barrier

Your home is your castle -- or was until last week, when the Supreme Court gutted the Fifth Amendment limitation on eminent domain seizures.

Formerly, private homes and business could be forced only off blighted land, only with fair compensation and only for clearly demonstrated greater public use. Under the court's new standard, any "public purpose" now will include greater private profit under the guise of economic development.

So far it sounds like the Post is opposed to the USSC decision on Kelo.

The court skated past the generally disproportionate impact on poorer and elderly Americans to rule that local governments, as the opinion read, deserve "broad latitude in determining what public needs justify the use of the takings power." Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the 5-4 majority that creating jobs, not just building needed roads or transforming slums, can be justification for forcing people off their land, which the court should not "second-guess."

But the threat of condemnation will hang over all property, as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stated correctly in her dissent, when there is nothing "to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

So far so good.

The ruling obviously disadvantages small property owners against influential private interests that have enough political clout to sell an elected majority on a "public purpose" plan for private gain.

Yup I've said this too

That was evidenced by the case which brought the decision, Kelo vs. City of New London, and which will benefit profit-driven entities. With blight not a factor -- Susette Kelo's is a healthy, working-class neighborhood -- the court sanctioned the eviction of 15 Connecticut residents because private developers could make more money off the land.

Fortunately, the court said its ruling does not preclude state restrictions on eminent-domain takings based on the promise of jobs or tax revenue. Florida's constitution specifically prohibits it, which underscores Riviera Beach's commitment to doing eminent domain on the right way if the city ever gets around to its proposed billion-dollar waterfront redevelopment. With blight clearly the motivating factor, city leaders promised residents and businesses an extensive relocation plan above what the law requires.

Wow Nellie! It's suddenly alright if the city of Riviera Beach does it. This is one of the poorer cities in Palm Beach County. Aren't these the people Liberals protect? By the way what is the definition of blight Palm Beach Post?

Still, on Friday, House Speaker Allan Bense, R-Panama City, created a committee to develop eminent domain guidelines for the state. To head it, he named Rep. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, a vocal supporter of the unsuccessful state subsidy, for which Rep. Bense voted, to build a Florida Marlins baseball stadium that could displace about 100 Miami residents through eminent domain.

I dislike hypocrite politicians as much as anyone but what the heck is the meaning of this paragraph? Does the Post think drawing guidelines is good, bad, or indifferent?

You also know something's wrong when Justice Clarence Thomas' dissent echoes the NAACP. Justice Thomas said urban renewal had been known as "Negro removal" for its displacement of minorities, the elderly and the poor.

Again what the heck is the Post saying besides attacking Justice Thomas? He defends the poor and you attack him. His stance on this case was consistent with his judicial philiosophy. Is the Palm Beach Post's editorial consistent with their political philosophy? I don't know but right now I need some dramamine.

I'll send a link to Randy Schultz. This doesn't sound like his writing. It does sound like Dan Moffet. His columns are both the most shallow and illogical of the Post's editorial writers.

Update- Mr. Schultz had no comment except to say I was wrong about who wrote the editorial. It was not Dan Moffet.

Outside the Beltway Trackback

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Newsperson Knucklehead of the Day

I already gave out a Knucklehead today but this was too good to pass up on. AP writer Jennifer Loven is already reporting on Bush's speech tonight in the past tense.

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer 20 minutes ago

President Bush on Tuesday appealed for the nation's patience for "difficult and dangerous" work ahead in , hoping a backdrop of U.S. troops and a reminder of Iraq's revived sovereignty would help him reclaim control of an issue that has eroded his popularity.

Hat tip-

American Gold Star Moms get it right

The Journal News reports on yesterday's sucessful vote to ammend the organization's rules to allow all Moms of deceased US Soldiers to be members of American Gold Star Moms.

I've blogged about this topic multiple times. Here is one link.

DALLAS — The American Gold Star Mothers agreed yesterday to admit noncitizens into the group for mothers of fallen soldiers, ending a 76-year-old ban that caused an uproar when a woman from Yonkers was denied membership.

Members voted unanimously to change the bylaws, hoping to stem a controversy that generated internal division and outside animosity toward the group.

"We will reach out to the two mothers of the American soldiers whose membership applications are pending due to the U.S. citizenship requirement that was in effect when they applied," said newly elected President Judith Young. "Mothers of United States service personnel who die while serving in the military will not be denied membership based on U.S. citizenship."

The decision means women such as Ligaya Lagman of Yonkers and Carmen Palmer of Mount Vernon — who lost sons in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, and have pursued membership — now can join.

"We are happy not just for our family but for other mothers who were longing for membership so that they have people to share in their grieving," Chris Lagman, the eldest of the Lagman brothers and the family's spokesman, said after he heard the decision last night. His brother, Anthony, was an Army staff sergeant — and a U.S. citizen — who was killed in a firefight at age 26. "It's a good organization. They just needed to change some of their laws."

The approval also meant the mothers could get on with their annual convention, which is taking place in a Dallas hotel. They breathed a huge sigh of relief as they left the conference room after a 90-minute session.

"I fought a good fight, and I won," said Georgianne Carter-Krell, head of the Florida chapter and a national board member who led the charge to change the rule. "I am very pleased for Gold Star Mothers. We have finally done what is right."

Kudos to Ms. Carter-Krell for getting this outrageous situation fixed. So the vote was unanimous. I wonder how much egg was the face of the twelve National board members? Their bigotry I've chronicled here before, but here is another Journal News article from yesterday that proves to me even more what was behind the initial rejection.

"I just took it for granted growing up that everybody was brought up that way," Jones said. "Now you go into any store and some people can't even speak English."

"But they can count their money," Wheeler chimed in.


Asked whether that meant they would vote to lift the ban on noncitizens, though, Wheeler smiled and said, "Don't put words in my mouth."

Don't have to Ms. Wheeler. You and the eleven other national board members did it fine on your own.

Milblogger Chuck update

Carren Ziegenfuss has posted an update on her husband Chuck. He is doing ok but apparently is spaced out on pain meds. That's understandable. Continue to pray for his brave man and his family.

A good cause

If you have money to donate, I suggest Helping our Heroes Foundation . Strictly non-paid volunteer run, it helps raise funds for our wounded soldiers who need monetary or other assistance.

Hat tip- La Shawn Barber

A Guantanamo Article you probably haven't read

It was buried on page A19 of today's New York Times. You mean we aren't torturing prisoners there? This is confirmed by Senators from both parties? Say it ain't so NY Times. Oh you put it on Page A19 while The Washington Times has it on page 1. We know where you're coming from New York Times.

Hat tip- The Anchoress

WASHINGTON, June 27 - Senators from both sides of the aisle competed on Monday to extol the humane treatment of detainees whom they said they saw on a weekend trip to the military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. All said they opposed closing the center.

"I feel very good" about the detainees' treatment, Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said.
That feeling was also expressed by another Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

On Monday, Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, said he learned while visiting Guantánamo that some detainees "even have air-conditioning and semiprivate showers."

Another Republican, Senator Michael D. Crapo of Idaho, said soldiers and sailors at the camp "get more abuse from the detainees than they give to the detainees."

In the last month, several senators, including some Republicans, have suggested that Congress should investigate reports of abuses at the detention center or that the military should close it to remove a blot on the country's image.

The law of unintended consequences

McCain-Feingold meant to regulate campaign financing could now be used to regulate political blogging.

It don't matter, left or right or in between we have a freedom in this country to speak our political views. The finance law was bad when it was passed and could possibly get worse. I'll continue speaking my mind here. So should Moulitsas Zuniga at yahoo news article. First let me say that Ms. Theimer shows her bias right off the bat. Not everyone, and I doubt even a majority of bloggers on the internet is anti-establishment. Wake up and smell the 21st century.

WASHINGTON - Bloggers who built their Internet followings with anti-establishment prose are now lobbying the establishment to protect their livelihoods from federal regulations.

Some are even working with lawyers, public relations consultants and a political action committee to do it.

"I like to think of myself as just a guy with a blog, but it's clear that 'just a guy with a blog' is different today than it was when I started three years ago," said Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the Web log "One sign of having arrived is when government regulators start wanting to poke their fingers into what you do."

Moulitsas testified Tuesday at a hearing on a Federal Election Commission proposal that would extend some campaign finance rules to the Internet, including bloggers. He urged the FEC to take a hands-off approach.

"Anybody can participate. Anybody can have a voice. And any regulation that potentially chills that participation, I think, is a net detriment to the medium," Moulitsas said.

Moulitsas also is working with a lawyer who volunteered to help bloggers fight new government regulations and whose efforts were promoted in a PR firm press release Monday. He is prepared to lobby Congress himself if necessary, and he is the treasurer of BlogPac, a political action committee formed last year by bloggers.

Michael Krempasky, founder of, said the FEC should treat bloggers like traditional media and exempt them from campaign finance regulation.

"What goal would be served by protecting Rush Limbaugh's multimillion-dollar talk radio program, but not a self-published blogger with a fraction of the audience?" Krempasky asked during his appearance before the commission.

Duncan Black — who founded the blog — featured a headline Monday on his Web site, "Bite me, Congressman," that linked to criticism of a Republican House committee chairman over global warming.

Asked whether the use of hearing testimony and PACs is a sign that bloggers are succumbing to mainstream political techniques, Black said he and his colleagues have no choice.

"I think once you do achieve a certain degree of traffic, influence, notoriety — however you want to call it — eventually the outsider label is not perfectly applicable anymore," said Black, who describes himself as a "recovering economist." He too planned to testify before the FEC.

Federal election officials until now have steered clear of Internet oversight, siding with bloggers and other online activists who portray the Web as a laboratory of grass-roots political participation and an outlet for free speech that should develop unhampered by the government.

But online political activity has become increasingly more sophisticated since the FEC last examined it a few elections ago.

Since the 2000 presidential campaign, when Arizona Sen. John McCain made a splash by raising millions online, candidates have raised tens of millions of dollars, and online political ads, consultants and organizing have become commonplace. Political parties and campaigns have added blogging to their Web sites.

Calling all cars...Where's our car?

Here's part of a story I found at the Sun-Sentinel. Maybe all the person needed was a gallon milk.

SANFORD -- No one saw the car thief who struck near this city Monday night, but the thief's choice of stolen wheels suggested someone with more guts than brains -- a marked Seminole County sheriff's patrol car.

The green and white patrol car was left running outside Seminole County Fire Station 41 on East Highway 46 about 9:15 p.m. when someone jumped in and drove off, sheriff's officials said.

Within minutes radio bulletins were broadcast to law-enforcement agencies around the region to watch out for the Ford Crown Victoria. It was found abandoned a couple of hours later near U.S. Highway 17-92 and County Road 427, left behind a convenience store and a car dealership.

Palm Beach Post Columnist Tom Blackburn

On June 13th I blogged about Randy Schultz the one Palm Beach Post columnist I always read and while we disagree alot, I do enjoy reading his columns.

I generally find the PB Post editorial page's liberalism irritating if not annoying. A perfect example of why can be seen in Tom Blackburn's June 27th column. Here is some excerpts from it.

There is no irony there. The uproarious demands for apologies are deliberate strategy. Complaining about how a subject is presented is a way to change the subject. The more you hear about offenses against etiquette, the more you should suspect that some touchy topic is being avoided.

Last week, they got Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., in their cross hairs and — by distracting the Sunday talk shows from serious topics into show biz — they extracted an apology from him.
Unlike Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, in attack mode, Sen. Durbin wasn't even trying to be offensive when he said that the FBI report from which he was about to read would — if you didn't know what it was about — call to mind some of the more tyrannical regimes of the past century. That comment was deemed insulting to our troops.

It sure is insulting Mr. Blackburn. Are you claiming that US troops have killed anyone at Guantanamo? We haven't, and that's plainly known. Senator Durbin compared Guantanamo to Pol Pot. Let me remind you the Khemer Rogue and Pol Pot murdered between 1.5 and 3 million Cambodian people. Somewhere in the vicinity of 30% of the nation's population.

Durbin wasn't trying to be offensive? That's bull crap Mr. Blackburn. Why not just read the letter without the far out editorial comment at the end? Can you explain that?

Senator Durbin's comments are defamatory. They also have nothing to do with Tom Delay or any other crooked member of congress.

While wasting a week on how insulting it was, the World's Greatest Deliberative Body didn't consider any implications of the FBI report. What the FBI said tracked with what the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and several Pentagon commissions headed by generals have said: There have been serious abuses of prisoners in U.S. custody.

Mr. Blackburn it was less than a week from the time of Mr. Durbin's insult to his apology and in between he tried to downplay it or stand by his comments. Also most of the MSM didn't even bother to cover this story for the first two days. None of the television networks did, it was the bloggers who called this to people's attention. Rightfully so, if people left or right in positions of power make outlandish comments they need to be called to task for it.

I'm going to email a link to Mr. Blackburn and see if he has any comment. Stay tuned.

Orlando Sentinel editorial

I haven't previously blogged about Social Security. Mostly because I find much of the debate arcane or there are just many more bloggers out there who can write better than I can on the subject.

Today's Orlando Sentinel has an editorial titled 'Democrat's aren't dealing responsibly with Social Security problemes'. I couldn't agree more with this editorial. Here is an excerpt

Democratic leaders are well aware that polls show deep public skepticism about Social Security reform. Clearly they have decided it is in their partisan interest to portray themselves as defenders of the status quo, even if it is fiscally unsustainable.

Otherwise, while fighting against personal accounts, they would be fighting just as hard for alternatives.If Democrats continue to stymie efforts to deal with Social Security's looming shortfall, they could be setting the stage for reductions in benefits for all retirees, including those with lower incomes, or deeper cuts in other programs that their party holds dear.

I have to wonder how much those poll numbers are based on the MSM coverage and Democratic party partisanship. The Democrats seem more willing to attack Republicans on the issue than find a solution to a problem that isn't going away.

Not untypically the Dems are taking the American voting public for fools. I may be a registered Democrat, but I'm not going to vote for people who rather be hack politicians than serving their constituent's needs. What ever happened to the old Democratic scare issue of the Social Security lock box? It's not used any more because the public knows its bogus. The voters will see through the current Democratic charade too.

The Knucklehead of the Day award

The Broward County courts have some real beauts dispensing justice down there. Because here we go with another knucklehead serving on the Broward County bench.

Today's Knucklehead Judge is Leonard Feiner who made disparaging comments towards the courthouse cleaning staff. This was reported in today's Sun-Sentinel .

Feiner demanded that custodial supervisor Nadine Coke appear in his courtroom after discovering someone had left his bench in disarray, pushing aside desk supplies, his phone and coffee mugs. When Feiner began questioning Coke whether the custodial staff was responsible for the mess, the courtroom recording system was turned off.

But midway through the conversation, the recording system came back on, a court transcript shows."They may live in -- in hovels where they -- where they live, but they don't have to leave places they work looking like a dump," Feiner said.

Coke asked: "They live where?"Feiner answered: "I said people that -- that they hire may live in hovels, but they don't have to leave courtrooms and the places they work looking like a slum."

Coke said: "Hovels and slums. OK."

Chief Assistant Public Defender Catherine Keuthan said it's common knowledge that the courthouse's custodial staff at night is primarily Haitian Americans.

The Public Defender's Office mailed the complaint Monday to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, the state agency that oversees judges, because Feiner's comments were not only racially insensitive, but showed contempt for the poor, Keuthan said.

She said the letter was signed by Public Defender Howard Finkelstein and all 10 of his chief assistant public defenders."We found these comments to be outrageous and discriminatory and they should be the subject of discipline," Keuthan said.

Feiner said Monday he has no idea what the racial makeup is of the courthouse's nighttime custodial staff."There's nothing racist about it," he said. "Anybody can construe anything they want if they have a motive or agenda. It wasn't racist because as far as I know I don't know who these people are."

The comments also had nothing to do with class, he said."It has to do with the fact [that] this is how they left the courtroom," he said.

Feiner said he might have overreacted a little bit to finding his desk a mess. He said that shortly after the exchange with Coke, he went to her office and apologized. Coke could not be reached for comment.

Feiner, who has spent 16 years on the bench, said he has had ongoing problems with the Public Defender's Office."They seem to disagree with the way I interpret the law and rule," Feiner said. "Rather than go through the normal process they want to make mountains out of all kinds of molehills."

Sorry Judge Feiner the reason no one goes through channels is because Dishonorable Judge Ross will do nothing but cover your sorry ass. You're a knucklehead.

Eileen O'Connor again

The Miami Herald reports on a press conference held yesterday calling for Broward County Judge Eileen O'Connor to resign.

You may recall this dishorable jurist from my previous post here

and here

And what is almost as bad as this whole despicable judge, is her boss Bill Ross seems to think this is all alright. He refused to intercede in the Stacey Forbes case and now refuses to assign Judge O'Connor to the civil division when she is obviously biased or prejudiced. Plus no movement has been made about the application where Judge O'Connor in saying no complaints were filed against her.

Judge Ross said-

''I normally don't respond to sidewalk press conferences by lawyers, but I think the gentleman needs to understand that assignments are not done through the media,'' Ross told The Herald on Monday.

``We make judicial assignments based on the old-fashioned things: merit, ability, talent, hard work, things like that.''

The only merit I see Judge O'Connor having is as being a dishonest and bigoted judge. She has no business being on the bench. I'm also quickly concluding Judge Ross don't either.

Stacey Forbes has more common sense than our judicial system. He said yesterday.

``She sent me to jail for the same thing she'd done. She should be removed. That would be fair.''

Why Judge Ross don't see this I don't know unless he is as crooked as Judge O'Connor. The good ole boy system where those without means get screwed by the legal system.

Its time for Governor Jeb Bush to step in and do something in this matter. Till O'Connor is suspended or removed, the Broward County Judicial system is a joke.

Monday, June 27, 2005

CityPlace Follies

The West Palm Beach mall will begin charging people to park starting this week. $1 per hour up to $5 maximum unless the person spends $100 shopping there or is attending the muvico theatre.

This was all reported in t his morning's Sun-Sentinel

Right now employees are supposed to park on upper levels to save space for customers but often do not, Herkal said.

The retail center needs to begin charging for parking because people throughout downtown have taken advantage of CityPlace's free parking garages without shopping there, Herkal said.

"We've become the prime parking destination, but not for our customers," he said.Things have gotten so out of hand that often it's difficult for CityPlace customers to find spots Friday and Saturday night, Herkal said.

The electronic gates that are being installed also will tell employees when the garage is full. There have been instances in the past when vehicles have been turned away, even though parking was available, Herkal said.

Peter Armato, executive director of the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority, acknowledged that business owners on Clematis Street have complained that the free parking had given CityPlace retailers an unfair advantage over them.

"That's water under the bridge," he said. "[CityPlace] has a lot to gain by managing their parking. I'm glad they're doing it."Armato said he doesn't think the retail center's customers will blink an eye at the new development.

They won't blink an eye Mr. Armato. They'll just go to other shopping centers, The Gardens, The Palm Beach Mall, The Boynton mall. This is all incredibly stupid, it's only going to hurt business at City Place. My wife will go there alot less than she does because of this.

Just further proof of what I say in my blog's description. You have to be a glutton for punishment to live down here in Florida.

The Knucklehead of the day award

It's been three days with no good knuckleheads but now I have one.

Today's winner is Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who apologized to her countrymen for a phone conversation she made where she talked about fixing last year's presidential.

The International Herald Tribune reports

"I recognize that making any such call was a lapse in judgment," the president said. "I am sorry." She added that she took "full responsibility for my actions."

The telephone conversation, which had been wiretapped, has roiled her presidency, with the political opposition claiming that it was proof that she cheated her way to victory.

Monday was the first time that Arroyo has admitted that she was the female voice on the recordings. Her admission, the administration hoped, should put the issue behind her.

Madame President you're just another dishonest crooked Philippine politician and a liar. You been caught red-handed on tape and you continue to lie. You're really a knucklehead

Will there be a vacancy to be filled at the USSC?

Today is the last day of the term for the US Supreme court. In addition to some final decisions to be handed down, there is much speculation as to if one or more of the justices could possibly be retiring.

Most centers around Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He is in poor health, having undergone cancer treatments during the last court term that forced him to miss some of the sessions.

Then there is Bill Kristol at The Weekly Standard speculating that Rehnquist will stay and Sandra O'Connor will be the one to retire. Supposedly she has been leaving hints that she'll be returning back home to Arizona. Kristol also mused that Rehnquist would not retire if O'Connor did. The reasoning being that the Chief Justice wouldn't want to hamper the court with two vacancies. Though when Rehnquist was nominated both for Associate Justice in 1971 and CJ in 1986 there were two vacancies/nominations in both instances. Justice John Harlan retiring and Hugo Black's death in 71 and Rehnquist being bumped upwards in 86 will Antonin Scalia being nominated to his seat on the bench.

Amusing thing is in those Pre-Bork days the fiercely conservative Scalia was approved by the Senate unanimously. That will never happen again.

My own opinion is that Rehnquist should retire because the later it gets into the Bush second term the fiercer the political battle is likely to become. He's been a great CJ but its time to step down.

If O'Connor wants to step down, I feel she should. One nomination or two, I feel the Court needs to through this long expected overhaul phase. If I were placing bets, I'd say Michael McConnell to replace Rehnquist as CJ and Either Edith Brown Clement or Alberto Gonzales to replace O'Connor. Clement's name came up for the seat Souter got in 1990 and Gonzales is of course Attorney General at the moment.

There's always my secret hope that Justice Fedex aka John Paul Stephens would retire finally. At age 85 it is quite obvious he is already senile

Hat-tip to Michelle Malkin

Sour Grapes

The Palm Beach Post has a very fine golf writer. His name is Craig Dolch and I have emailed him from time to time.

For last week's US Open, Alan Tays covered the event instead of Mr. Dolch. There is a league of sea of difference between the two of them. First on Sunday in a long cheerleading style article Mr. Tays was talking how they should be talking a Morgan slam. Part of it because she was low US Open qualifier. Which is great for a 17-year-old girl but very few people consider a Open qualifier a tournament.

In Today's Palm Beach Post Mr. Tays is back with a front page commentary. I've highlighted part of it below.

Standing in a bunker so deep she couldn't see out of it, Kim blasted her ball out of the sand. It came out low and hot, darting across the green, showing no sign of stopping.

Until the cup got in the way. The ball caught the left edge of the hole and dropped in for — what else? — a birdie

In a non commentary news report, Mr. Tays Describes the shot-

It came out low and hot.

And it went in the hole. For a birdie.

Sorry Mr. Tays, this was an incredible shot that you seem to want to acknowledge in your non-stop Morgan cheerleading. I was watching yesterday when it happened. The shot was low, but it certainly wasn't hot.

I've checked other news reports, AP, Sun-Sentinel, Denver Post. None called the shot low and hot.

The ball went in left center. Not Left edge.

The ball was going to finish ten feet or less from the hole. Not exactly showing no signs of stopping. The ball was going about the same speed as Bob Tway's 86 PGA blast or Larry Mize's 87 chip at the Masters.

If you would ask any one else in yesterday's field about Ms. Kim's shot, they would have taken the end result of it even if it hadn't gone in a hole. It was a great shot. Mr. Tays you're just too blinded by cheerleading to see it.

In the future may I suggest a good optomertrist.

Scott Maddox and the Florida Democratic Party fiasco

Today's Palm Beach Post has some analysis on how the State Democratic Party's financial bungling will effect the campaign of Scott Maddox. The former Tallahassee mayor was State party chairman till a month ago.

No one is suggesting that Maddox did anything improper. But he has been criticized harshly for the lapses that took place during his 29 months as leader of the state party, resulting in the embarrassment of the IRS slapping a tax lien of nearly $200,000 on the party's bank accounts and property.

His successor, former U. S. Rep. Karen Thurman, said Wednesday after discovering the problems, "The internal controls in this office were absolutely, unequivocally the worst."

His predecessor and foe, former state party Chairman Bob Poe, questioned whether the former Tallahassee mayor is fit to be governor. "If he can't manage the affairs of the party, how can he manage the affairs of state?" Poe said.

This is Maddox' own party speaking.

I'm a registered Democrat and this won't have me voting for him. How will it effect him in 2006? The primary is fourteen months away and the general two months past that. Voters can have notrious short memories. Trust me his opponents in either the primary or the general should he win the first are not going to let voters forget this bit of incompetence.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


Birdie Kim holes out from the sand trap at 18 for birdie to win the US Open! Way to go Birdie and congratulations.

Pulitzer Prize for Fraud

The Sacramento Bee just disclosed their investigation into the writing of one of their long-time columnists Diana Griego Erwin. Ms. Griego Erwin won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 when she wrote for the Denver Post. I give the Bee credit for doing such a thorough investigation rather than sweeping it under a rug. Still what was discovered is disturbing.

When Diana Griego Erwin resigned last month amid controversy, I promised you a deeper review of her work as a Bee columnist.

In the accompanying story, we report the results of our investigation. The findings are troubling: We have been unable to verify the existence of 43 people she named in her columns. This doesn't prove these people don't exist, but despite extensive research we have been unable to find them.

We know that credibility with our readers is at the heart of what we do. That's why we put this investigation through two lenses: a management team and a team of award-winning investigative reporters.

Again kudos to undertaking this investigation. But why didn't anyone ever before raise some questions? Because of Griego-Erwin's reputaion based on her Pulitzer? Or was she a Stephen Glass like charmer who bamboozled the Bee's staff.

An internal investigation into the published work of former Bee columnist Diana Griego Erwin found 43 cases in which individuals named by the writer could not be authenticated as real people.

Griego Erwin, whose column ran three days a week on The Bee's Metro page, resigned May 11 after she failed to substantiate details from several recent columns. She has denied fabricating any information.

Forty three is a great many cases and this wasn't a 100% investigation of the writer's work. I do have to wonder if the demands of three columns a week was part to blame here. That doesn't condone what was done, but I have to question why those in management couldn't see that a work load like that could lead to a writer either taking short cuts or out right fabricating material to meet his or her work load.

Many of the columns in question fit a template: essays, often with a surprising O. Henry twist, about a singular person who faces a challenge and surmounts it. Their stories frequently reflect a theme taken from current headlines - wildfires, for example, or prison brutality, school shootings, murderous road rage or a high-profile trial.

Some are people with last names so unusual they don't appear anywhere in the United States. For example, a column that ran May 13, 1997, described Victor Budriyev, a Russian immigrant who lost his sweetheart to the bright lights of Los Angeles. The Bee could find no Victor Budriyev in the United States, nor a single citation for "Budriyev" in all of the massive Google search engine.

Some don't show up where they should: Donald Burton, a "barber" who is not on the state's list of licensed barbers. Margaret Brown, a "retired teacher" who is not on the rolls of the teachers retirement system. Others are described as longtime homeowners whose names do not appear on property records for their communities.

The O Henry like stories sound awfully like the Stephen Glass affair. Mr. Glass was known for his humorous anectdotes. Did Ms. Griego-Erwin's writing not get checked because it amused those at the Bee or fit their biases or political views?

As to the names. Budriyev of course is suspicious but the others could be a person who goes by their middle rather than first names. Plenty of people do.

a red flag went up when an editor asked Griego Erwin a routine question on April 23: What was the name of the tavern where she interviewed Anthony Romero, the bartender who was a focal point of the column?

Griego Erwin said she couldn't remember, although the interview ostensibly took place the evening before.

"Two weeks later, when we still didn't have the answer to that question, it raised more questions," Rodriguez said.

Eventually, Griego Erwin identified a bar she thought might have been the place. However, that bar did not employ an Anthony Romero.

A faulty memory after two weeks. I could see two years. Again why didn't anyone start asking questions earlier.

The column goes on to list specific instances of holes in Griego-Erwin's writing. No question the Bee did a thorough job and came forward to address the issue. I just wonder how many more Greigo-Erwins there are out there?

Outside the Beltway Trackback

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Akaka Bill battle rages on

Almost a month ago I blogged about a bill that is before Congress that would set up a government for Hawaiians only. It's being sponsored by Democratic Senator Daniel Akaka from Hawail.

It's back in the news again in today's Honolulu Advertiser. Hawaiian Governor Linda Lingle is not happy with Arizona Rep. Senator Jon Kyl who opposes the legislation. The Governor says recent statements by Kyl are false.

Let me ask what is the purpose of this legislation. Is it to

1- Address injuries done to the Hawaiian People.

2- To create a separate Hawaiian only Govt.

3- Or both

Now lets ask, why is it necessary to address injuries suffered over 100 years ago now? Lets grant that injuries were inflicted. What specifically are you proposing to do. Have reparations be paid to every Hawaiian? What's that amount to be? Are we to pay every single person who has Hawaiian blood? Is it automatically assumed all Hawaiians were in some way injured or will someone make this determination?

I'm asking specific questions for a bill that seems to have a very vague purpose. The Hawaiian people exist, why does a bill have to be passed to recognize them.

My view on reparations for Hawaiians is the same as African-Americans. Nothing. What we have here is some pandering chimpanze like politicians and some people looking for a handout. Everyone would like to get a check from the govt. I'd love it, but I don't deserve and neither do these people.

Let me quote Sen. Akaka from the same Advertiser article

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the bill's chief sponsor, took to the Senate floor Tuesday to respond to the Fein articles placed in the Congressional Record.

"This bill is a step in the right direction for all people of Hawai'i because it provides a structured process that will allow us to finally resolve many of the long-standing issues resulting from the overthrow," Akaka said. "It is disturbing that opponents to the bill rely so heavily on mischaracterizations of the legislation to advocate their position."

"It greatly saddens me that the opponents to my bill feel the need to rewrite Hawai'i's history, as painful as it is for those of us who have lived it, in order to advocate their position. It is one thing to oppose my bill. It is quite another, however, to trivialize the history of Hawai'i."

Senator how is anyone re-writing Hawaiian history? Tell me, I am not and neither is Senator Kyl. No one is trivializing it either. We're just wondering why we're going to have to foot a bill for a Hawaiian Only govt, what its purpose is, Why its needed and how much it will cost. All fair questions.

As to a separate government for Hawaiians only. For what purpose? There is the State of Hawaii, they have a state govt. So Hawaiians can have casinos like many Indian tribes? Why don't the Governor just propose that legislation to her own legislature. Maybe because no one wants casinos?

Another government besides being unnecssary is going to be costly and for what purpose? Plus where do we go with this? Should will have a Govt for every Ethnic group or race in this country? All I see is more govt. jobs and patronage for pandering politicians Like Gov. Lingle and Sen. Akaka to dole out while the citizens foot the bill in higher taxes.

I suggest everyone write your Senators to put a stop to this idiotic legislation before it gets passed.

Outside the Beltway Trackback

You don't get it and never will

There's an OP-ed piece in the NY Times today by John Wheeler. He feels Vietemease Americans should forgive and forget and help to rebuild their homeland.

Mr. Wheeler maybe you should look at it from their view. How many of their family members and friends were killed the regime that's now in power in Hanoi? I think its hard to forgive people who murder in the name of political ideology. Free trade or a film showing the attrocities of thirty years ago isn't going to bring these people back to life.

The Last Wound

Published: June 25, 2005

WHEN Prime Minister Phan Van Khai of Vietnam wraps up his trip to the United States today, he will have gathered with President Bush at the White House and Bill Gates of Microsoft in Seattle, rung the bell to open the New York Stock Exchange and met the presidents of Harvard and M.I.T.

But two stops left off his itinerary were Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, home to the biggest communities of Vietnamese-Americans and epicenter of anti-Hanoi sentiment.

One million Vietnamese-Americans enrich the United States with their work ethic and vibrant culture. Yet many still feel animosity toward their homeland.

They lobby against closer relations, boycott visits by officials like Mr. Khai and vilify the Vietnamese government on human rights. They consider the yellow and red flag of the old regime their own; a misguided bill pending in Sacramento would make California the 10th state to endorse that flag as the official banner for Vietnamese-Americans.

The impact of this breach is social and political but also economic, impeding the growth of trade and discouraging Vietnamese-American entrepreneurs from taking knowledge and values back to their homeland. Closing the rift would greatly benefit both our countries.

I recently witnessed a hopeful sign in the reception of "Journey from the Fall," a new film about the fall of Saigon, re-education camps and the boat people coming to America. For years the movie's star, Kieu Chinh, had been ostracized for serving as co-chair of the Vietnam Children's Fund, which builds schools in Vietnam. Yet at the Washington premiere, a big audience of Vietnamese-Americans roundly applauded her.

While candid about the abandonment of South Vietnam by the United States and the severe abuses by the Hanoi government, the film provoked not enmity but a sense of healing among the tearful audience. It focuses on children and the future, representing the view of its young producers, Alan Ford and Lam Nguyen, whose parents fled Vietnam.

Does blight include football stadiums?

The City of Arlington Texas thinks so. They want to condemn 19 properties to make room for a new Dallas Cowboys stadium. With Kelo as precedent, local governments can now take away people's property on any whim. The court system isn't level. How many homeowners can foot legal bills in the thousands when opposed by governments and corporations with deep pockets?

Justices Stephens, Breyer, Kennedy, Ginsburg and Souter should hang their heads for the most shameful Supreme Court decision in years. This goes down with Plessy, Dred Scott in the hall of infamy. Three of these shameless justices were appointed by Republicans, only making the next nomination more important than ever.

The entire Dallas Morning News article

Hat tip and Trackback to Outside the Beltway

By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News
ARLINGTON – The Arlington City Council is expected to authorize on Tuesday eminent domain proceedings against as many as 19 properties needed for a new Dallas Cowboys stadium and approve resolutions paving the way for 33 more condemnations in the coming weeks.

Mayor Robert Cluck said the properties are owned by individuals who are either unwilling to sell or are demanding an unreasonable price for their homes or lots. Some have not responded to the city's offers, he said, and a few would not allow city negotiators on their property.

"If they can't make reasonable counteroffers," Dr. Cluck said, "we have to use this tool."

City officials said they would continue to negotiate with property owners through Tuesday to try to avoid the need for condemnation. However, Dr. Cluck said, some homeowners are unlikely to settle without legal action.

The city's announcement came a day after the U.S. Supreme Court released a decision confirming that cities have wide latitude in condemning property for economic development purposes. That decision, which Dr. Cluck said didn't affect the timing of next week's votes, means that federal appeals of condemnations for the stadium in Arlington are unlikely.

Robert Magnus, whose house is on the condemnation list, said he was unaware of the City Council's vote next week, but he's not surprised. He had hoped that the Supreme Court would help him with its Kelo v. New London case.

Mr. Magnus would not say how much the city has offered him for the house he's owned for two years, but he said it wasn't enough to pay off his mortgage.

"They are just giving me pennies and telling me to get out," he said.

City officials said they are required to pay fair market value for the properties, and in addition, they are offering incentives ranging from $5,250 for renters to $22,500 for homeowners who agree to accept an offer and move quickly. Also, some moving expenses would be paid by the city.

Glenn Sodd, a Corsicana attorney specializing in eminent domain cases, could not be reached for comment Friday. He has said that he represents the owners of 15 homes and lots and four apartment complexes that are on the stadium site and that he would take the cases to the state Supreme Court if necessary.

The City Council approved resolutions last week stating that 19 properties are needed for the stadium. Dr. Cluck said those resolutions were the first steps toward the filing of eminent domain proceedings. At next week's meeting, 33 more of those resolutions are on the agenda.

The council also is expected to vote on the voluntary purchase of nine other properties. The city has already agreed to purchase prices for a dozen other homes.

A majority of the 33 homes on the resolution list are rental properties owned by Charlie Scott, a major landlord in that neighborhood. Mr. Scott could not be reached Friday.

Go Michelle!

15-year-old Michelle Wie enters today's 3rd round of the US Women's Golf Open in 2nd place. She'll be playing with the leader, Nicole Perrot of Chile, in today's final group.

It's amazing a young lady this age can play with the pros like she does, but it won't be a surprise if Michelle wins this weekend. She has twice been second in LPGA events this year, including the LPGA championship just two weeks back.

The LPGA needs players like Michelle to generate interest. Here's hoping she wins this weekend.

A rare chess post

My favorite hobby is chess. As of this moment I am playing 151 Correspondence chess games. Either by email or postcard.

The largest Chess organization in the US is The US Chess Federation. I have been a member of this organization since 1973 and been playing CC since 1974. I haven't played Over the board competitively in 20 years.

Sadly the USCF has been in decline of late. Mostly because of poor management. This organization has gotten into debt for millions of dollars. They have of late been trying to save money and have been sucessfull. They have moved their Headquarters from upstate New York to Tennessee. Corr. Chess was outsourced to Alex Dunne(For a while it was threatened with elimination and I was active in fighting this from happening) and tighter financial controls have been put in place.

Still the organization needs to keep their present focus. Four board seats are up at the moment and one of the people running, Bill Goichberg while well intended was involved in the financial debacle that occured at the USCF. One year they were unable to hold the National championships because of this. The organization doesn't need more of this.

I cast my votes today- Robert Tanner, Greg Shahade and two write-ins, Jim Eade and Frank Camarata. Frank and Jim are former board members. If any of my readers out there are USCF voting members, please vote for these four people. We want chess to continue in this country.

The case of the paid plantiff

Sounds almost like a Perry Mason episode but it isn't. Federal prosecutors in California have charged a retired attorney Seymour Lazar for allegedly taking kickbacks so he can be used as a client in class action lawuits. The law firm of Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes, & Learch has been very prominent in class action lawsuits including one against Enron

This more proof of how class action lawsuits only benefit the lawyers and this sordid practice needs to be finally shut down. I also find it interesting how the firm is already to spin this story into them being persecuted unfairly.

Here is the entire Washington Post article

Hat Tip and track back to Captain Ed

LOS ANGELES, June 24 -- Federal prosecutors here have charged a retired Palm Springs, Calif., lawyer with taking kickbacks from a prominent New York law firm in exchange for serving as plaintiff in dozens of class-action and shareholder lawsuits that earned the firm $44 million over 20 years.

The indictment against 78-year-old Seymour M. Lazar, unsealed Thursday, stems from a years-long investigation by the U.S. attorney's office into the practices of Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, which before splitting into two firms last year had led the largest of the investor suits against bankrupt energy trader Enron Corp.

Lazar's attorney condemned the indictment Friday as an attempt to get his ailing client to turn on the law firm. No employees of Milberg Weiss have been charged, and the firm is cited in the 70-page indictment only as an unnamed "New York Law Firm."

But a spokeswoman for Milberg Weiss acknowledged that it is the law firm involved.Reports of the grand jury investigation of Milberg Weiss, some of whose partners have close ties to the Democratic Party, were aired in the news media in early 2002 just as one of its top lawyers, William Lerach, was taking the lead in the Enron litigation.

The charges against Lazar do not involve the Enron suits, however, but suits against Standard Oil, United Airlines, Denny's and other corporations in which Lazar or his relatives acted as plaintiffs.

According to the indictment, Lazar received about $2.4 million from the firm for his involvement in the suits. He was charged with seven counts of mail fraud; six counts of money laundering; one count of conspiring to obstruct justice, commit mail and wire fraud and make illegal payments to a witness; one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of obstructing the grand jury investigation; and one count of criminal forfeiture.

Another Palm Springs lawyer, Paul T. Selzer, 64, was also named as a defendant for allegedly helping launder the illegal kickback payments for Lazar. Selzer was traveling Friday, according to an employee in his office, and did not return a message for comment.

Lazar surrendered to authorities Thursday, though a judge refused to have him detained, his attorney Tom Bienert said.Bienert called Lazar "a champion for consumer rights" whose involvement in a variety of suits had helped to stop discrimination by restaurants and overcharging by car companies and financial institutions, among other unfair corporate practices.

Any of Lazar's actions in these cases, Bienert said, had been approved by reputable lawyers.And Bienert characterized any payments to Lazar as routine fee-splitting or referral fees, which he described as "a time-honored practice with few, if any, limitations

"The manner in which the government has proceeded here, including charging only Mr. Lazar and seeking the extraordinary measure of detention, suggests that it's an effort to get Mr. Lazar to say negative things" about the law firm, Bienert said.

The U.S. attorney's office, though, declined to comment on whether its investigation into Milberg Weiss is still continuing.In a statement from Milberg Weiss, the firm said it was "saddened" by the indictment of Lazar. But it also blasted the government for implying that the firm was involved in wrongdoing "in circumstances where the firm cannot defend itself."

"We are outraged that these allegations have been made against the firm and reject them as baseless," the statement said.Milberg Weiss made its name as the nation's leading law firm representing investors in securities fraud cases, winning multimillion settlements against such companies as Metropolitan Life, Philip Morris, Adelphia and Lucent Technologies.

A federal grand jury began investigating the firm more than three years ago, according to reports at the time in the Los Angeles Times, focusing in particular on whether the firm had made improper payments to its plaintiffs. Lerach was a major contributor to former president Bill Clinton, leading to some speculation that the U.S. attorney's investigation and the leaks to the media about it were politically motivated.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Winn Dixie Store Closings an opportunity?

Earlier this week the Super market chain announced they were closing over 300 of their stores as part of the company's re-organization attempts after filing for bankruptcy. Five stores are being closed in Palm Beach County where I live.

The Sun-Sentinel article I'm going to post below quotes some people who think store closings could be good for the shopping centers involved. I take the exact opposite position. I live less than a half mile from a shopping center where there used to be both a Zayres/Ames Store and a Winn-Dixie. The first closed for business in 1990, the later in 1992. The shopping center died not long afterwards. At its nadir I doubt 30% of the space in this shopping center was occupied. The place was a ghost town. Only till recently when a Cuban Super market opened has the place perked up again. The old Ames store is still vacant 15 years later.

With plenty of office and shopping center space available I don't see any of the store closings in Palm Beach County being beneficial to the shopping centers involved. I know both the Gun Club and Sandalfoot locations well. The Winn Dixie store is the main draw there. Without it the other businesses will face rocky times. That's my prediction.

The entire Sun Sentinel article can be found at-,0,3609350.story?coll=sfla-business-front

By Yolanda Sanchez
Business Writer
June 24, 2005

After Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. announced Tuesday that it is closing 326 stores, nine in South Florida, the question remains: What will happen to these locations?

Although these locations did not fare well for Winn-Dixie, which succumbed to competition from grocery giants such as Publix Super Markets and Wal-Mart Superstores, some think that profit is possible for other companies.

"One person's misfortune is someone else's fortune and this is going to be an opportunity for someone to do something that is profitable," said Seth Werner, chief executive officer of Cypress Creek Capital, a Fort Lauderdale-based real estate investment banking company. "My guess is that another `big box' user would take it over, such as an LA Fitness."

As part of the supermarket's bankruptcy reorganization, Winn-Dixie has to shed leases at these sites. It has already received offers for 135 of the 326 stores for sale, said Stephen Bittel, founder of Terranova, a commercial real estate advisory firm based in Miami Beach.

Winn-Dixie has employed The Blackstone Group, an investment and adviser firm focusing on companies in distressed situations, The Food Partners, a Washington-based investment banking firm to the food industry, and DJM Asset Management LLC, a real estate consulting and advisory firm based in New York, to assist in the company's marketing efforts, said Joanne Gage, vice president of advertising and marketing for Winn-Dixie. The firms, however, would not comment or could not be reached regarding their involvement with Winn-Dixie.

The fate of employees, however, is not so easy to determine. "That decision is driven by the use of the location," Bittel said.If the location continues as a grocery store, the likelihood of employees being kept is more probable than if the location is used as another business, Bittel added.

Because Winn-Dixie filed for bankruptcy, it has the option to reject its leases or perform what is called an assume and assign, said Howard Berlin, managing director of Kluger, Peretz, Kaplan and Berlin, a Miami firm specializing in bankruptcy and other areas.

If Winn-Dixie rejects its leases, it will have to pay claims connected with those leases under a plan approved by the court. It can also assume and assign the lease to another company to reduce or eliminate the debt or sell it for a profit.

More Florida A&M Follies

If you ever read the Tallahassee Democrat or check its website, you will frequently read articles about Florida A&M University(FAMU) and some recent episode of malfesience or bungling going on at this school. If it isn't the Football team, its the law school.

Today's News is little different. Professors teaching classes during the summer term are threatening to quit because they haven't received their pay yet. I don't blame them. Just recently it was learned FAMU had a professor on the payroll that was supposedly teaching while he practiced law up in Kentucky. The lawyer/professor in question was a contributor to the school. So what is going on up there?

The full Tallahassee Democrat article can be found at-

Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. - As many as 10 professors at Florida A&M University's law school who did not get paid for the first session of summer classes have threatened to stop teaching if they do not receive the salaries they were promised.

Interim dean James M. Douglas said Thursday university officials in Tallahassee thought the summer faculty's salaries were too generous, but provost Larry Robinson had pledged to pay them in full.

Summer instructors were promised about $20,000 each for teaching four credit hours at the Orlando campus, about the same salary as the past two summers, though only about $13,000 each had been set aside, Douglas said.

"I think a lot of it had to do with the processing of paperwork," Robinson said. "A lot of people are working extremely hard to make sure it does not happen again."

Interim President Castell Bryant said FAMU's human resources office notified her earlier this week that it had just received a batch of faculty contracts for the ending summer term. That group likely includes faculty members other than those at the law school.

"That has nothing to do with the computer," Bryant said. "Somebody is not processing paperwork when they're supposed to."

Bryant didn't know yet how many faculty were affected. She said she's working to resolve the problem.

The Tallahassee Democrat reported in late May that an undetermined number of faculty received only partial paychecks for the first summer pay period. Bryant said then that everyone who didn't get paid would get their money within a few days.

FAMU has been under state scrutiny for financial mismanagement since audits cited untimely bank reconciliations, poor accounting practices, deficient check-writing controls and late vendor payments.

The school cut athletic scholarships in every sport and has enforced a spending moratorium on cell phone, travel and other routine expenses.

Class Action suits run amok

Class Action suits are some of the biggest jokes in this country. Lawyers make thousands if not millions quibbling over some small print, the people they are supposedly suing for get a pittance if they get anything at all. I leased a car a few years back. A CA suit was filed against Nissan and I get a check. For .77 cents!

What I'm saying is that for my .77 cents the price of automobiles I may be interested in purchasing or leasing are now going to be more expensive. And what for? Do these suits benefit anyone other than the lawyers?

There is an article in today's Orlando Sentinel where a CA suit has been filed against the producers of Trauma- Life in the ER. The two defendants were treated in an Orlando area ER in 2002 when this show was being filmed.

Now they are suing and being represented by an attorney named Brandon Peters. The article says -

"Americans pay for the greatest health-care service in the world, and they pay a premium," said Brandon Peters, an Orlando attorney who represents Dosch and Marrero. "As such, patients deserve to be treated as dignitaries and not laboratory rats."

Peters said the lawsuit doesn't question the right to broadcast the material, but the filming and production process.

"We have concerns about the methods employed by the New York Times [television company] to obtain consent from these people," Peters said.

So let me get this straight. You are not questioning the right to broadcast but the way they filmed it and the production process. So why are suing? If you are not objecting to bein on the air, what difference does it make how the people filmed or got the consent from your clients?

Just more legal nitpicking and greedy lawyers I say.

The whole Orlando Sentinel article can be found at-,0,2905627.story?coll=orl-home-headlines

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