Thursday, December 29, 2011


I was fortunate enough to be able to make it to the memorial ceremony in Weymouth for former Emerson Wrestling Coach Jim Peckham last summer. I was pleased, but hardly surprised by the large turnout. The funeral home was overflowing with people wishing to celebrate a most extraordinary life.

There were certainly tears shed by most in attendance, but there were many more smiles and nodding of heads as a steady stream of people stepped to the front of the main room to share remembrances of a man who had touched their lives. There were former student-athletes from Emerson, people from the college who had worked with him, and people who knew him as Coach, Dad, Grampa or friend.
Most of the stories and anecdotes had memories of his humor, philosophy, but most importantly, his humanity. He was a man of immense humanity. There were stories of how he invited people into his home, gave them money, even if he had little more than they did, or simply listened to them with a keen and sincere interest in whatever it was they had to say.
The stories offered by former wrestlers that day contained the same themes, but more importantly, the same beliefs and principles taught by Coach Peckham, as he was teaching arm bars and half nelsons. He spoke with knowledge, and eloquence of the Greeks and Romans and often used examples from those civilizations in his pre-match talks to his wrestling teams. He seldom raised his voice, and never motivated with stock phrases. Instead, he used stories of the ancients, and those not so ancient, to inspire us to believe in ourselves and strive to achieve beyond what we thought was possible for each of us.
The stories always had a moral and enforced his strong beliefs in the virtues of commitment, sacrifice, loyalty and respect. He taught us all the importance of respect. Respect for your opponent, and others you encounter, and respect for yourself.
Emerson has certainly produced many outstanding Alumni and has been home to brilliant and accomplished permanent and visiting members of the faculty. Jim Peckham was as accomplished and as highly acclaimed in his field as any member of the Emerson family. His influence upon generations of Emersonians and those we will encounter and influence will be his most lasting legacy and something to be celebrated by the college and all those who knew him.

If you look hard enough, you can find good in almost anyone and sometimes you find greatness right in front of you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

You Got Some Splaining To Do Bernie

Okay, so now Syracuse University Head Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim has to backpedal, eat his words and reluctantly admit that his long-time friend and assistant Bernie Fine may have done some nasty things and then let Boeheim look bad in public with some strong statements in favor of Fine when the news first became public.

So far this does not appear to be a cover-up as was the case at Penn State, but only time will tell. Boeheim’s initial comments in support of Fine when the story first broke appear to be a case of a friend and colleague supporting someone he felt was being wrongly accused. It now appears that Fine may be guilty of at least some of the acts alleged by more than one person. A taped phone call believed to have been between Fine’s wife and one of the alleged victims seems to support allegations of abuse. If true, you have to feel even more disgusted with Fine for letting his friend stick his neck out with some strong statements when the allegations first broke.

Are there more shoes ready to drop at SU and elsewhere? Let’s hope not. Can it get any uglier? Don't answer that; please.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Woe is Us

Senator Pat Toomey, from Pennsylvania was on CBS’s Sunday Morning yesterday and he showed why this Congress and it’s Super Committee are jokes and have to go. It is time to vote them all out and bring in anyone, and I mean anyone, that will begin to work towards reforming the rule of the elite we now have. Just look at the Republican field of presidential candidates. If you can raise enough money, anyone can get in the race and be a factor; at least temporarily.

Senator Toomey reflects the feelings of most of the members of the Super Committee. Do nothing and the cuts in spending will automatically take effect in 2013. That gives them plenty of time to change the balance of the plan. It was supposed to be 50% defense cuts and 50% to discretionary expenditures. Senator Toomey, and others trying to protect the defense contractors, have already begun talking about changing the formula of the agreement so that the defense budget would not be severely impacted. Stay tuned and you can see how this is going to develop.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have lined up against the other side and do not want to listen. This Super committee didn’t even meet in the same room. The Dems met in one room and the Republicans in another. They hammered out some proposals they know the other side couldn’t accept and then had them delivered by some junior staffer running back and forth between the rooms. Neither side wants an agreement.
The Nough Boys in the GOP are afraid of the far right fringe and their big-money supporters so they won’t even consider a fair and balanced approach to solving the crisis and keeping the country sane and the economy afloat. The Democrats have already made significant concessions and feel that they can’t move any more, at least until the Republicans give in at least a little, or they will piss of their supporters.  Both are rigging the argument. It’s all about spin and blaming the other side right now.

The bottom line is, most people in this country know that there has to be a reasonable accommodation between the two extremes that requires cuts and new revenues. Most of the politicians have not come around to that realization yet. Why are they always behind us? They are more afraid of losing their job than actually governing, that’s why.
Though they blame it on the Democrats, it is the wacko right of the Tea Party, and the talk radio zombies that have created the current state of what they like to call class warfare. This Occupy (plug in a city) movement is not well organized or particularly effective at doing anything other than getting people arrested right now, but if we don’t get some kind on sanity and leadership out of Washington soon that could change. If the elite well-heeled class thinks that it can win a protracted class war, they may want to read a little history. Look what happened in France in the late 18th century, Russia in 1917 and the Arab world this year. I don’t care how much money you have or how strong you build the walls around your castle; 99% against 1% wins every time, if the 99% get hungry enough. I don’t even want to think about where an escalation of the bickering and posturing we have now could lead us.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Money is the Root of All

This relates to my previous post. It's all about keeping the money flowing in.

Gillibrand's Food Fight

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand blasted fellow lawmakers yesterday for blocking the Department of Agriculture's plan to increase the number of fruits and vegetables served with school lunches. The proposal would have cost the federal government $6.8 billion over five years. “This is just ridiculous, period,” said Gillibrand, who has fought for healthier food choices in public schools. “When we should be taking steps forward to combat the childhood obesity epidemic, Congress just took a step backwards.” Coca-Cola, the National Potato Council and the American Frozen Food Institute opposed the proposal.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

McCain Slaps Fellow GOPers

Hooray for John McCain. The Arizona Senator took some of his own party’s presidential candidates to task for endorsing waterboarding and saying that it is not torture. McCain said unequivocally that it is torture; it doesn’t work; and it is morally and legally wrong. Seems pretty simple, straightforward and right.

Then why are so many of these wackos and dipshits running for president being given so much credence? I wish I knew, but suspect that it is due to all the money pumped into these campaigns along with the lack of attention paid to the process by the general electorate. It's all about winning so you can help those who finance your campaign. The hell with effective governing.
Too many people on both ends of the political spectrum listen only to others who think, and I use that term very loosely here, like they do. There is very little give and take on ideas and policies.  It seems to be just people shouting back and forth and accomplishing nothing. The country is going to hell, and nobody has the balls to reach out and try to find solutions. At least John McCain provided us with one very brief peek at what political sanity looks like.
In light (or is it lite?) of all this, Aintgotnoband is officially endorsing Kinky Friedman for President of the United States. If we can't have sanity in our national politics, we can at least have some fun and make some people very uncomfortable. :0

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fish or Cut Bait

Both the Senecas and the Mohawks have stopped paying gambling proceed payments claiming that their exclusivity protections have been violated. - From the article at the link below.

How can New York State violate the exclusivity clause of any agreement with the Senecas? The Seneca Tribe claims to be an independent nation. New York does not plan to open any casinos on Tribal Lands. The State would like to operate gambling facilities on land belonging to the State.

The Seneca nation wants it both ways. They are sovereign and independent when it suits them and they are part of the state when that is beneficial. New York should tell them to make a choice. If you are an independent nation we will treat you like our friends in Canada. There will be free trade, border crossing checks, etc. You can run your own country any way you see fit. We will not, however, provide any government services. You are now and forever sovereign, independent and on your own. We will have ambassadors and consulates and all the other stuff of international relationships, and we will be friends. Open all the casinos you want. Sell cigarettes for 12 cents a pack if you want, but build your own government, educate your own kids. You would likely do a much better job than the poorly funded public schools most of your kids currently attend now.

Let's end this constant battle that drains money and attention from other problems in New York. New York and the Seneca Nation need to decide once and for all, is the tribe part of New York and the United States or are they a separate nation. The situation is ridiculous, for both sides. If they must remain sovereign by federal treaty, then build the border barriers, cut off all government services and open an embassy in Salamanca. What we have now does not work; for either side.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting Ready To Fire The Coach

Most of us having been watching the growing "Occupy Wall Street" movement the past few weeks. It is a lose-knit group of people mainly venting the frustration felt by the majority of Americans concerned about the inability of our financial and public institutions to solve the economic problems that have put millions out of work and sapped our savings and even our will to believe in the American Dream.

The protesters, and many other American across the country, are frustrated and angry. We are frustrated and angry over the lack of any real solutions, but I don't think that alone is fueling the protests in Manhattan and other American cities. What has finally gotten the great silent majority (Remember that term?) of Americans to take notice and raise their voices is the disconnect between the general population and the people in Washington, New York and our state capitals.

Even President Obama doesn't get it. He has made attempts to make us think he understands, but it is all too obvious that he doesn't. He is busy campaigning for his take-it-or-leave-it "jobs bill" when what most of us want is for him to find a way to work with the Nough Boys in the Republican Congress.

The Republicans want to continue the status quo for Big Business, while Obama says he wants to use a balanced approach of budget cuts and new taxes to try to dig us out of the current jobs and financial disaster. That makes sense to many of us. The problem is, he is not addressing the issues many of us see as critical to regaining the support and trust of what the protesters refer to as "The 99%."

Many of the financial problems seem to stem from the melt down of the housing market caused by the deregulation of the banking and financial industries started by Bill Clinton and continued under the Bush Administration. Obama continues to employ several of the same people who helped strip away many of the regulations that protected the middle class. This has allowed big banks and financial firms to bilk millions of Americans out of their homes and retirement savings with reckless, immoral and illegal schemes.

We have the fox guarding the hen house. He needs to clean house and get some new faces with new ideas into his inner circle. Next, he needs to demand that the institutions that we bailed out with our tax dollars stop doing business the same way. The people who caused the problems continue to make big profits, pay big bonuses to their executives and sit on large amounts of cash while the rest of us struggle or even sink into the financial abyss. The President and Congress do nothing to right this wrong. We wonder why nobody has been put on trial for this huge immoral transfer of funds from the masses to the corporate robbers. The president says most of what they did was not illegal. That means he believes that some of it was illegal. Go after those who committed the crimes you think you can prove; put them in jail and take back the looted funds. How hard is that to understand?

Mr. President, it is time to shake things up. You are a sports fan and understand that if the team is not achieving its potential you have to make changes. Fire the assistant coaches, or we, the owners of this country, will fire you. We believe that the game is rigged and is working in favor of the new Robber Barons.

This is becoming class warfare, but it is a war being created by the business elite and their cronies in government. They claim that we want to steal from the rich and give their hard-earned money to the rest of the people. That is, of course, not true. We want to stop giving billions of dollars to major corporations and make them stand on their own. The business and government elites don't understand this. They yell class warfare, when all we want is a square deal.

The politicians are only trying to maintain their status and their place in the food chain, and the place of those who keep them well-fed and in office. We want a fair economy; capitalism not cronyism. Don't believe the robbers who say that we can't take the advantages from the "job creators." We have been funding them for decades. Where are the jobs? They are sitting on the cash they got from our taxes and living the high life, while much of the rest of the country struggles to stay afloat. That's not fair and the American people are starting to figure that out.

Beware awakening the sleeping dog. It's bite can be very painful, just ask the former leaders of Egypt.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sucking us Dry

News Report -
* At a Brooklyn hearing yesterday of the legislative task force on redistricting, several local Democratic lawmakers got into testy back-and-forths with capital region Assemblyman Jack McEneny, a fellow Democrat who co-chairs the redistricting panel. Councilwoman Letitia James scolded the panel in testimony for not having any African-American members, then made an inaccurate point about the panel, which prompted McEneny to blurt out, “You’re wrong.” That led James to compare McEneny to Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, of “You lie!” fame. Later, Assemblyman Nick Perry groused that the public could not attend the hearing because it was held at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. McEneny responded that nighttime hearings would end at 3 a.m., telling Perry, “What if everyone went over the five minute limit – as you did? … Maybe we’ll just have to end with elected officials next time.”
Isn’t it long past time for Jack McEneny a double-dipping, almost invisible dinosaur to just go away? Let’s hope that the Democrats of Albany County blow this guy out of the water at the next election. He should be the poster boy for those who want to institute Recall in NYS.

this the the Assemblyman that you almost never see or hear anything from who retired from the NYS Assembly a couple of years ago and began collecting a full pension, then went right on holding onto that Assembly seat, collecting a full salary and benefits on top of a pension for the position from which he retired. He sees nothing wrong with ripping off the taxpayers of NY in this shameless money grabbing tactic.

It Shouldn't Be This Hard

If the Republican Nough Boys would just shut up for a minute and listen, some of the proposals put out by President Obama, like reforming the tax code (I know, I’m dreaming) and the way we deliver and pay for healthcare make sense.

The Tea Partiers are wagging the Republican Party’s tail by demanding that there be no tax hikes; at least for their friends and supporters. They really want us to believe that adding a couple of thousand dollars to the amount of taxes paid by folks making a lot of money will cause them to move and stop creating jobs. So, remind me, how many jobs did those Bush tax cuts for the rich actually produce? Most people, and banks, are just hanging onto that extra cash. Add the costly, stupid and maybe criminal incursion into Iraq, stir in the deregulation of the banking and financial industries begun by Clinton and continued by Bush and Obama and you have the makings of the economic meltdown.

Raising the income level for tax increases to $500,000 and tweaking Medicare and Medicaid to reduce those costs a little seem to make sense to most of us. I think if you picked about 100 citizens at random and put them in a hotel with some of those $16 government corn muffins and they would probably come up with a decent package of cuts and revenue enhancements. Then we could have Rambo, Dirty Harry and MR T deliver it to Congress and glare at them until the dweebs sign it, resign and go home; in that order. We can elect a bunch of new people and give them a shot at some graft and free limo rides for a while.

Pissed off does not begin to express the disgust with which I view this ugly, rotten, dirty and self-serving political climate in this country. I am willing to be I am not alone, but will we have the balls to push the people we send to D.C. and our various state capitals to stop selling their asses to whoever will pay for the reelection to do what is right for the country? I hope so, but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, June 10, 2011

It's Only Fair

The news below was reported by Jacob Gershman in the Wall Street Journal.

Lawmakers in Albany say they're tired of being treated as punching bags. One is taking those concerns literally.

State Sen. Eric Adams, a Democrat from Brooklyn, wants to adjust the penal code so that sentences for assaulting elected officials are harsher than for attacking regular civilians.

He's proposing to establish the felony offense of assaulting an elected official. Those convicted of such a crime would face up to 5½ years—more than double the maximum term normally handed down.

"If we're holding elected officials accountable for their role as public servants," said Mr. Adams…

 Wait, what did I miss? When did we start holding elected officials accountable? Politicians beat up photographers, slap staffers, betray the public trust, hide their dealings with people doing business with the government, misuse public property, and yet seldom seem to suffer any legal ramifications. Hey, we are usually too dumb even to pay attention to what they are doing after we elect them let alone vote the bad ones out of office.

All that said, I think Senator Adams is right. Politicians are sometimes targeted because of their notoriety, so the law is a good idea and probably should be enacted. However, It should not even be considered until the Legislature passes an ethics law that will actually hold elected officials accountable for their actions while in office. The ethics law should also make them reveal who they and their outside business entities do business with and how much they earn from those dealings. The law must also make sure that there will actually be proceedings against legislators who violate the public trust and the law of the land. The recently passed ethics legislation will not do that.

One more thing; this Legislature must also outlaw the outrageous situation that allows members of the Legislature, like Jack McEneny, to retire from their job as a Legislator and collect their retirement while also collecting a salary and stipend as a full-time Legislator.

No wonder so many people want to punch these dickweeds.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Great Day

This is reposted from early 2010 since it blew up with an earlier blog.

Okay, I'm sure it wasn't as big a deal for her, but yesterday was special for me. I drove my youngest daughter to an open house for accepted grad students at a college about 90 minutes from home. She's been accepted at two good schools and wait-listed at another. Smart kid.

The morning began with breakfast at a diner before we hit the road. She was dressed in business casual clothes and had on real shoes and makeup. She looked great. No big deal you think for a 21 year old college senior. Oh contraire. This is a kid who wore almost nothing but sweats, sneakers and flip flops for the first 18-19 years of her life. She played basketball and soccer through high school and then continued soccer in college, so had lots of athletic wear, but not a great deal of variety in street clothes.

I always pictured her older sister, also an athlete for most of her life, as the hard working serious student. She will graduate from Optometry school fourth in her class in June. Take a closer look dummy (nickname my brother gave me). Little One (my nickname for her) is entering a serious Masters program and is already looking ahead to doctoral programs at other institutions. Wait; when did the quick-as-a-cat athlete with the brains to generate grades without an outward appearance of hard work, turn into a serious student with a definite career plan? Long before I was smart enough to recognize it, I assure you.

Life hasn't been too bad for me so far. I will always have doubts about some of the choices I've made regarding career - such as it is - and some of the bizarre personal decisions in my portfolio, but there is no doubt that seeing these two terrific young women grow up has been a privilege. I say with no false modesty at all that their mother, and their own strength of character, is the reason they have become who they are. I am thankful to have been along for the ride.

I sometimes think about how fast it has gone and will often tell them both how much I miss them when they were younger; and I was smarter and more relevant. I then think of something my mother said late one night when my brother and I were having one of our after dark talks. She told us how much she enjoyed being around us as young adults. We could discuss books that contained words of more than one syllable and form opinions about important topics. That has now happened with my girls; and is not such a bad thing after all. They have discovered most of my faults and, shall we say, idiosyncrasies by now and accept them for what they are. We sometimes have those interesting conversations I remember having with my mother and brother. They will always roll their eyes at some of my words and actions, but are becoming more tolerant of the weirdness as they get older.

I'm still not prepared to be a responsible member of society except when absolutely necessary, but I certainly don't mind being known as my daughters' dad. When they turn out as well as these two have, it is certainly good for the image to be associated with them, rather than some of the people and experiences before they came along and changed my life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Real John McCain Stands Up

This is the John McCain I remember and respect. His voice is the most credible in the Senate on this particular issue. He is absolutely right when he says we are supposed to be better than this. I believe this is exactly the kind of stance most Americans would point to as an example of what they consider to be American Exceptionalism.

Most Americans don’t want us to be the world’s police officer or the bully on the block. They want us to be on the side of right in every fight; not the side that will benefit us most economically or politically. Many Americans still view America as an ideal. America stands for opportunity, fairness, righteousness and the rule of law.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


New system will allow government to supersede all cell phone traffic to blast emergency messages. Read more here…

This is a great idea, but must be watched closely to make sure that cell service is not interrupted to prevent people from communicating or getting information when they want or need it. This should be used only in times of an extreme and imminent emergency. If I'm in the midst of an obscene phone call, I don't want somebody reminding me about alternate side parking or to remember to pay my taxes. I fear that it is only a matter of time before some dimwit in the legislature or Congress decides to sell time on this system to businesses for commercial messages. We do have a shortfall in revenue, you know. Paranoia runs deep.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Where do we go from here?

What now after the death of Bin Laden? Where do we go with the large military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq? Where do we go with our relationships with repressive and often inept regimes in nations friendly to us? Will we continue to hold our nose and help prop up brutal and corrupt governments in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, etc., etc., etc.?

We, the people of the United States, must pay attention to what our government is doing in our name. Are we made safer by our strategy? Apparently, at least in the short term. What is the cost? Are we leaving our national legacy as the moral leader of the world behind in our quest for our own safety? And, are we destroying our economy by investing so many trillions of dollars, so many young lives and so much of our focus on this strategy at the expense of so many needs at home?

Killing Bin Laden was necessary and the right thing to do. The question now is, will we refocus, rethink our plan for the future? Is it time to begin to invest in our own land and our own people?

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Wait, Animal Kingdom wins the Kentucky Derby? I didn't see that one coming. Not many did as the freakin' horse paid $43 to win. I narrowed my choices down to seven, then boxed three of them in and exacta. Not even close. Oh well, it was a fun time watching the lead up and then the race itself.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cut the crap

President Obama's commission on gas prices is a great political move, but won't accomplish much. He is a terrific communicator and a skilled campaigner, but has trouble getting things done to benefit regular folks. How’s the appointment of GE’s CEO to his advisory group working out? GE pays no corporate income taxes and ships 28,000 good jobs oversees and this is the guy that is supposed to help us out of the recession? Almost makes you want Neutron Jack back in charge at GE, eh?

Then of course there are the financial and banking gurus we bailed out with our taxes who are pulling down those large salaries and bonuses but not sharing. Any of those clowns ever go to Kindergarten? Remember, all these tax breaks for the rich are supposed to create millions of jobs. Big profits announced by Microsoft and the oil companies this week, yet we put another 400,000 people on unemployment insurance. Happy Easter.

The Feds want to extend tax breaks for the well to do and NYS wants to give the fat cats even more tax breaks. Both levels of government are cutting and slashing Medicaid, Medicare and other entitlements with no plan to deal with the issues in the long term and the business lobby and most political wonks think these are good moves for the nation. Okay, but who will pick up the costs when these people get really sick and end up in emergency rooms or nursing homes?

Who is going to pay for the long-term care for all the casualties of all these freaking wars we keep starting, with no plan to end? We know that the VA and the military don't want to provide the long-term care and financial support these folks the politicians are so quick to praise as heroes will need when they come back home. Ask some of these homeless vets or the ones who can't work because they are so fucked up from the things that happen to them while overseas if they feel like heroes when nobody seems to care if they live or die.

My heart is breaking and my head is going to explode. I'm not a bit religious, but I'm starting to think that we need a guy like Christ to come along again about now and bitch slap us all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Second City

I just made my first trip to Toronto and came away quite impressed. It is a very cosmopolitan city with the same European feel as Montreal, though with a touch more NYC. It has vibrant cultural and entertainment districts and is also a terrific sports town. Downtown is alive with a variety of restaurants, pubs and bars.

We hit a great sports bar called Shoeless Joe's with some very impressive and talented bartenders and waitresses. There is also a neat Irish pub in the former Irish Embassy. The Loose Moose is a great local pub for after the game and the English pub Elephant and Castle has a very nice menu and one of the best selections of draft beers anywhere.

The people of Toronto are friendly and seem to be very fit. There are places serving healthy food every five feet and the locals walk, run and bike all over town. Everyone seems to be young and fit and there are more beautiful women than I have seen in any town outside of Boston or NY. This is a city I could grow to really enjoy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big Beast Looks Bad

Big East Conference Pulls the Plug on Villanova Football

What an utter embarrassment for the Big East. The league tried to strong-arm Villanova into upgrading their football program. Now that the school appeared ready to make the move, the Big Beast pulls the rug out from under a charter member and solid citizen of the league.

Why did they pressure Villanova into undertaking this exhaustive study and never mention Georgetown or Notre Dame? Both those schools are in much better financial shape than Villanova and Notre Dame is already an established Division IA Football program with all the facilities and other supports in place. Why not tell ND to get in for football or start looking for another league for your other sports?

Never mind, I get it. Money; specifically TV money. Once ‘Nova saw how lucrative the Big East Football TV package is, they decided they could make the move and not lose money, just as UConn did. Did some Big East Football schools decide that since TCU has come in with another top 10 TV market that the league doesn’t need Villanova Football anymore and doesn’t want to share any more of the TV revenue? That is a likely scenario. The stadium won’t bring in much revenue, they won’t gain much of a TV share of the Philadelphia viewing audience, at least initially, and Villanova will take years to develop enough of a football following to make a significant contribution to the league coffers with merchandise sales, additional TV revenue, ticket sales and Bowl appearances.

On the surface this makes the Big East look very bad. Even Tim Higgins and Jim Burr can see that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Feudal or Futile?

I need some help understanding just what is going on here. In New York, and nationally, there is strong support for policies that continue to pile the weight of the economic downturn on the shoulders of the middle and lower echelons of American society while extending more benefits to those who need no help.

In New York our legislature and governor voted a tax break for individuals making over $200,000 a year and couples earning more than $300,000 a year. This on top of the Federal tax break these same people received last year when Congress handed them a tax cut by voting to continue the Bush-era tax breaks. This is done, they say, to stimulate the economy and create jobs. How many jobs have the folks on Wall Street, who put us in this bind and are receiving big salaries and big  bonuses created in the past two years? More than they destroyed in the previous two? Nope!

How about multi-national firms ,like GE? Well, we know that they have created hundreds of jobs in their tax evasion departments. Their job is to find loopholes in the tax codes and exploit them for the benefit of the company. It is all legal, and something that virtually any organization would do, if it had the resources. GE paid no U. S. corporate income taxes last year. No taxes on billions in profits. Why? Because they can. They employ lobbyists and political contributions to influence how the tax laws are written and then hundreds of accountants and tax experts to use those laws to their benefit. Ah, if only the thousands of former employees GE fired over the years because their jobs had been shipped overseas had the same kind of influence and power.

Bill Bradley said it well on MSNBC's Morning Joe today when he said that if we don't address Social Security, health care, military spending and taxes at the same time, we will never get the deficit and the cost of government under control. The trouble is, both extremes of the political spectrum want only to confront one or two of those issues to play to the myopic views of the base of their respective parites. Why? Because they care more about staying in office and helping to enrich themselves and their supporters than about solving our problems. It is easier to pontificate, do little of substance, and reap the benefits of office than to attempt to find long-term solutions to complex problems and risk being voted out.

The gap between rich and poor continues to grow in the land of the free, while the politically brave are missing in action. I often blame the American public for not paying attention and continually electing the same boobs and crooks when it is really not our fault. Dave Matthews was right when he wrote in Waiting On The World To Change - It's not that we don't care, it's just that we know the fight ain't fair".

I always said that this current generation is smarter than the Boomers. We beat our chests and banged our heads against the wall and changed little about our society. This group takes a more Zen approach and goes with the flow, knowing that the rapid rush of water that yields to the rock and diverts around it, will eventually prevail and wash the boulder away, winning out in the end.

This grasshopper needs a beer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Great Music

Austin City Limits is still the best music show on TV. Just got home and popped it on to find Jimmy Cliff live in concert. This guy has been producing great music for at least 40 years. And this show has showcased great musicians for at least as long.

I would love to get to Austin and see that music scene. I remember watching this show when I lived in Dallas in the early 80's and they had great acts like Asleep at The Wheel, Tom Waits and others from all around the state that played in Dallas clubs like The Filling Station, The It'll Do Club, The Bronx Club, just off Dealy Plaza, and others. Between those clubs and the dance clubs on Northwest Highway there was a wild and vibrant music scene in the Metroplex. It was a great time to be young and working in the clubs in the Dallas area. 

Pushing the season

Just got a call from Jimmy-James. It's breezy, 50 degrees and most of the snow is gone. Time for golf. Got a tee time in 20 minutes and then it's off to one of the local establishments to watch Kentucky and UCONN in the felon bowl. I think John Calipari is a better cheater than Jim Calhoun, so I'm gonna go with Kentucky. The VCU magic continues as they will beat Butler.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yankees Rule

Okay, I have a lot more to say about the thugs, thieves and boobs running this state, but for now; baseball is back. The Yankees are in first place after an opening day win over Detroit and they have a half-game lead on the Red Sox with just 161 games to play.

Also, by this time next week Strikealinethruit (SALTI) will be back in NY and getting ready to start the 2011 thoroughbred racing season. Life is good; sorta. I need a change of scene. Maybe I'll go back to Boston for reunion weekend in June and play a little golf and drink a little single malt scotch, or hang out at the Sam Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain and drink some of their craft brews. It's hard to beat Boston in June; except maybe in May or September, or even October.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We need a change

The state is discriminating against upstate residents with poorly designed school aid programs that favor the more affluent districts (see the Times article below). Our governor and state legislature have also imposed huge cuts to Medicaid that disproportionately impact people with disabilities and the working poor while allowing some legislators to collect both their pensions and their legislative salaries. On top of that, they are giving a tax cut to affluent people who already received a federal tax cut last year when the Bush-era tax increase was allowed to expire.
The gap between rich and poor and upstate and downstate continues to grow with the help of government policies.

We don’t need more taxes. We need a fair and equitable tax system that people can actually understand, fair and sane redistricting that doesn’t ensure that the same people get elected time after time, full disclosure of who our legislators work for and where they get their outside income and ethics legislation that will actually punish those who abuse their office and snub their noses at the people they are supposed to serve.

Whew. I'm done. That was a little over the top, eh?

From the NY Times - Saturday, March 26, 2011
Rich District, Poor District

To balance New York State’s budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to cut a record $1.5 billion from the $23 billion budget for grades K-12.

The cuts would scarcely affect wealthy districts that rely primarily on local taxes to support lavishly appointed schools. But they would be catastrophic for impoverished rural districts that have been starved of state aid for decades and are still reeling from cuts levied last year when David Paterson was governor. Already struggling to furnish even basic course offerings, the poorest districts would need to cannibalize themselves to keep the doors open and the lights on.

The fundamental inequity of the cuts, as currently proposed, can be seen in how they would affect two of the state’s school districts: Ilion in the economically depressed Mohawk Valley, and Syosset, a wealthy town in Long Island’s Nassau County.





The system is one of the poorest in the state. More than a third of its 1,600 students are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches, and that figure would no doubt be higher if some families whose children need free lunches to eat nutritiously were not too ashamed to apply for it.

Impoverished districts like Ilion, which has an eroding tax base and relies on the state for more than three-quarters of its budget, were supposed to fare better after a 2006 court ruling that ordered the state to give each district enough money to provide every child with a “sound basic education.”

Under a new formula created by the Legislature, some of the poorest districts were promised as much as an 80 percent increase. The increases were to be phased in over four years in steadily larger amounts. Ilion, which had been promised a 35 percent increase, got a modest boost in the first two years. But then the state ran into fiscal trouble; funding was kept flat in 2009 and cut in 2010. Like many other poor districts, Ilion retrenched. It laid off teachers and backed down from plans to expand its course offerings.

Thanks to an ambitious school building program carried out by the state, Ilion’s low-rise brick high school is in great shape and indistinguishable from similar buildings even in wealthier communities. The course offerings tell another story. The school offers only one foreign language, Spanish, and is unlikely to offer any others until and if the economic climate improves. As a result, a transfer student who was seeking a third year of French has had to take the course online.

The school offers only four of the possible 34 Advanced Placement courses, which allow students to earn college credit in high school. The Advanced Placement course in biology was particularly hard won: school officials said they had to “steal nickels here and there” to buy microscopes and other material necessary to run the course, which is certified and overseen by the College Board.

Under the Cuomo administration’s proposal, Ilion would be asked to absorb a new $1.1 million cut, on top of the $450,000 cut it took last year. That would not even come to a rounding error in the state’s richest districts. But for Ilion, whose budget is about $25 million, the new cut, combined with the $1.3 million the district is obligated to pay for raises, benefits and other costs, produces a deficit of about $2.4 million.

Mr. Cuomo has left the impression that school districts like Ilion could weather cuts by tightening their belts and winning pay freezes through negotiations with their employees. A pay freeze would save Ilion only $600,000, leaving a huge deficit of $1.8 million. The district could save money in the long term by getting teachers to contribute more to their health care costs. But that will not happen, if at all, until the current contract expires next year.

Moreover, pension expenses, which will cost the district more than $1 million this year — and about 2.5 percent more next year — are locked in by the State Constitution, which makes it illegal to reduce benefits for workers already enrolled in the system. Proposals that would create less expensive pension plans for future employees will take decades to produce significant savings.

Ilion is seeking to save money by merging with three districts nearby. But the results of a merger feasibility study will not be known until the fall. The only short-term way for Ilion to cut costs is to lay off teachers while savaging academic programs that are already inadequate.





Meanwhile, prospects remain bright in affluent districts like Syosset in Nassau County, which has a rich local tax base and, according to the most recently available statistics, gets only about 12.6 percent of its budget from the state. The district’s course catalog runs more than 130 pages. It offers students Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Latin, American Sign Language and Mandarin Chinese. College-bound students, which is to say, just about everyone at the high school, have access to a dazzling array of almost 30 Advancement Placement classes that include different levels of calculus, physics, economics, environmental science, music theory and studio art.

Signs outside the low-rise building that houses the high school proudly proclaim that the United States Department of Education has cited Syosset High for the excellence of its academic programs and that the system’s arts education program was ranked first in the nation in 2002. Whereas most Ilion students end up at local community colleges, Syosset launched nearly all of its graduating seniors into four-year colleges last year. A significant number of them enrolled in schools like Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Cornell.

The district could easily raise enough through local taxes to support its entire $188 million budget. Despite its lavish programs and a budget more than seven times that of Ilion, Syosset would get roughly the same cut under the Cuomo plan, about $1.4 million.

Districts like Syosset also benefit from loopholes in the state funding formula that drive hundreds of millions of dollars each year toward wealthy and moderate-income school systems that could do without it.

The most obvious of these is the so-called high-tax aid provision that reimburses wealthy and moderate-income districts that tax themselves heavily to fund high-end school programs. By state estimates, this provision inflates the school budget by about $200 million per year. Another provision that deliberately underestimates the poverty levels in the poorest districts has cost those districts millions in aid. Yet another provision that allows districts in wealthy areas to have a larger portion of basic education funding covered by the state siphons off even more money.

No one should begrudge wealthy districts like Syosset their wonderful course offerings. But the state must do more to improve and better fund public schooling in economically depressed parts of upstate New York.

Governor Cuomo has made revitalizing these areas a priority. But the region stands little chance of attracting high-skill jobs if its schools are allowed to deteriorate. Instead of swallowing the Cuomo proposal whole, the Legislature should fashion a fair system that cuts out the givebacks to the wealthy while driving more money toward the starving, poorer districts that so desperately need it. By helping those districts survive tough times, the state is also looking out for its own best interest.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wheeling and dealing

The NYS Budget is in and though many are happy with it, it is a case of the politicians taking care of their own and ignoring many of the most vulnerable and powerless among us.

The governor allowed the legislature to restore some of the cuts to education, removed the medical malpractice suits limit and gave a tax break to those making over $200,000 a year. The winners are the teachers' unions and trial lawyers. The big losers are people with disabilities and the working poor. Cuts in Medicaid, Early Intervention and other programs will result in the loss of sevices and the loss of thousands of low-paying jobs. The loss of those jobs means more people on unemployment and public assistance and increased costs to the taxpayers.

Meanwhile the people making over $200,000 a year will get a tax cut. The powerful media commentators on the righ are calling this a refusal to raise taxes, and of course that is a lie. The tax was in place. This is a tax cut for the rich and powerful at a time when the state can least afford it.

The budget is done, now it is time to see if Cuomo and the Legislature deliver on their promises to redistrict fairly and pass meaningful ethics legislation. Don't hold your breath.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I guess it's true that we are all only six degrees removed from anyone else in the world, at least on facebook. A friend mentioned that she stalks friends friends' lists to see who they know and to view interesting photos they may have posted on their pages.

That's not something that especially appealed to me, but if she thought it was interesting, who am I to judge? Hey, my life is not all that interesting, so I don't need to see other people's lives, either to feel good because they are even bigger losers than I am, or to send me into a funk because I find hundreds of people with lives full of fun, adventure, romance and sex. I have plenty to do just trying to keep my own little corner of the world intact without digging into the daily activities of others.

I did do a search of the list of people that facebook says I might know and found that interesting. If you browse that list, you will see many names of famous, or semi-famous people, because they are one of the 1,357 "friends" of one of the peolpe on your friends' list. I found the photos of broadcasters, actors and politicians on the list, simply because one of the people on my friends list who happens to collect friends has a connection to the famous person through one of their contacts.

I'm now in the process of going through my list of friends and eliminating anyone who has friended more than 100 people. I will keep family members that may have more than that on their list, but the rest must go. Facebook is not a contest to see how many people I will never meet I can add to my list. If I want to stalk someone, I'll do it the normal way, by hanging around their house after dark or following them to the local pub and rummaging through their car while they are inside having a drink.
Where's the excitement in looking through stuff people actually expect you to find?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blowing Smoke

Richard Iannuzzi, the head of the very rich a powerful New York State United Teachers union made some very good points in an op-ed piece published in yesterday's Albany Times-Union. He also left some very important points out of his piece, as you might expect. After all, he is fighting for the status quo, which right now favors the public employee unions. The pendulum always swings back and it will begin towing back towards equilibrium in relations between government and public employees unions very soon.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow Job

Okay, so this winter has gotten so long, so cold and so snowy here in the great Northeast that I actually asked a friend to let me go snowshoeing with him this weekend. I like walking; I like being in the woods and I like working out, but walking in the woods at 12 degrees is not usually my idea of fun. But we were three or four beers into the night and I was whining about the long winter and somehow I'm going snowshoeing this weekend.

The last time I went out in the snow with this yahoo we were in Lake Placid and he decided he would teach me how to cross country ski. I'm a bowlegged, beat up old wrestler whose knees aren't even in the same zip code. I was fine after I ignored his suggestions about how to ski down hills, but walking is more my style.

Anyway, Sunday in the woods should at least build up a good thirst and there is plenty of single malt scotch in my cabinet. You always need a goal.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Helping out with Polar Bear

So I'm heading north to Canton in the morning for one of my favorite events, the CP of the North Country Polar Bear Golf Classic. This is an anti-cabin fever event I helped our Affiliate start 12 years ago. They have built it into a major fundraiser and one of the pillars of the Winter Carnival in St. Lawrence County.
I just observe, glad-hand some of the sponsors I helped bring in and MC the banquet now. In the first few years of the event I used to go out on the driving range of the golf course at the University and help set up the nine-hole course. They cut the holes in the fall and lay large swatches of all-weather carpet for the greens. Each hole is between 50 and 90 yards and it takes about an hour to play the course.

It is like summer golf; most people playing just to get thirsty and win some of the prizes. It is a fun event and the food and beer afterward is always good. We have seen some interesting weather over the years. One year we had rain and mud in February, 10 miles from the Canadian Border.

I recall one year setting up the course at dawn - 7:00 am in Canton in February - and it was 22 below zero. There was a crystal clear sky, no wind and a beautiful sunrise. We finished setting up the course in two feet of snow that had fallen a couple of days before. The golf pro wanted to see if the storm had damaged any trees on the back nine, so we jumped on a pair of snowmobiles and flew across the open fairways at something in excess of 70 miles an hour. We traversed most of the course, passing deer foraging for breakfast, a fox trying to get out of our way and various other critters wondering what the hell we were doing disturbing their peaceful morning. We stopped along a partially frozen stream about a mile from the club house and spent a few minutes just taking in the scene. It was pristine and beautiful; breathtaking actually. An amazing morning and not a bad way to start your day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Wait, let me think this through. New York State is facing a $10 Billion deficit this year alone, and even more in the next couple of years. New Governor Andrew Cuomo is promising no new taxes and is planning on cutting and slashing state spending with the support of most legislators and so far, most of the citizens of the state. We are going to see painful cuts in public school aid, Medicaid, aid to local governments and on and on. Across the board cuts, and no new taxes you might believe.
Not so fast. Last week we learned that something close to $75 million dollars remains in the state budget to support the purchase of land and other costs associated with a new downtown Albany convention center that is projected to cost in excess of $200 million. The history of big construction projects in the Capital City suggests that it will actually cost much more than that.

The project has been pushed by Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and other politicians and some business leaders in the Capital District, but many people are still confused as to why this project is moving forward.
There are options, such as putting much less money into the convention center across the street from the Capitol or not building this potential White Elephant at all.

Come on Governor, does this make sense? You are proposing huge cuts in aid to schools and localities and 10% cuts to Medicaid, but we are going to continue to move forward with this folly in downtown Albany? Really?