Monday, 16 February 2009
ED SCHULTZ TALKS SENSE ABOUT CONGRESS
Ed Schultz is the only liberal/leftward talk show host I know who has
demonstrated more than a nominal capacity to attract listeners.
Maybe it's because of quotes like this, which he made about the congressional
hearings that put Wall Street executives on the carpet:
Here's the bottom line, the committee that grilled
these eight executives, 71 members, 42 Democrats, 29 Republicans. Now we're
doing ESPN Inside the Numbers. Of the 71 members, folks, there's only 33 of them
that have ever run their own business or were involved in upper-level management
of a business, less than half. That means a bunch of 'em come from government, a
bunch of 'em come from the activist life, people that have never met payroll. Of
these 71 members, get that?, 33 have ever been in private business. And, get
this, five have some business experience but did not run their own business and
were not involved in upper management. So now the number's up to 38. OK, of the
71 members, 33 have no apparent business experience. OK? What are you doing on
the House Financial Services Committee? Who are these 33 that have never been
there and done that, supposed to hold anybody accountable who is at the absolute
top of their profession being a CEO of a major financial institution?
Good for you Ed. I don't think it could have been said
DUBAI, THE "ENLIGHTENED" ARAB STATE
From today's New York Times. The bold print is mine:
A Political Swing at One Player Sours a Tournament for
As freshly strung racket strings pummeled
defenseless balls Sunday, a more sinister tension was striking at the heart of
womens tennis. The show went on in Dubai but with Middle East politics as its
top-ranked headline, with a player taken from the draw for the crime of being
from the wrong country.
Shahar Peer, an Israeli, was scheduled to
play a Russian, Anna Chakvetadze, in the first round Monday of the Barclays
Dubai Tennis Championships, a major stop on the early-season circuit that
features all but one of the top-10 players. Peer, ranked 48th, had planned to
play this $2 million tournament for some time, but there was always the specter
of real-world invasion, the matter of a visa being granted to a Jewish player
traveling on an Israeli passport. That had never happened in Dubai, which is
part of the United Arab Emirates. Larry Scott, the chairman and chief executive
of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, said Sunday that he told officials of the
seven-year-old tournament that it had to happen now.
We knew it was an issue, but we made it
clear that she was going to be in the draw and we wanted to be optimistic that
she would get the visa, Scott said. Then they waited until the 11th hour to
Just like that, the glitter and promise of
Dubai as an emerging international sports center evaporated into the cool desert
night. The tour had a decision to make with almost a full complement of
competitors, 55 of 56, in or on their way into town, ready to play the Premier 5
event, what Scott called one of our nine biggest tournaments after the four
In a telephone interview, Scott said a
response of canceling the tournament was immediately discussed, but Peer and her
family called for caution. They didnt want all the players to be harmed
because of one, Scott said. We talked to our players and told them that
something terrible has happened here, but every single one would be punished if
we were to cancel.
Next year, Scott seemed to say, will be a
I made it clear to them that if Shahar were not
allowed to play, they would run the risk of losing their tournament, Scott
said. It would be a big blow to lose one of this prestige and money, but
if it comes to the principles of fairness and openness, there can be no
If this is Scotts nonnegotiable position, then
tour stalwarts need to be right behind him, as Venus Williams appeared to be when the news broke in
All the players support Shahar, Williams
said. We are all athletes, and we stand for tennis.
They need to support the tour, in whatever
direction it goes, no doubt knowing which way that should be.
Scott wasnt surprised that Williams was so quick
to the defense of Peer, or any peer. She has grown into a senior presence, a
leader in the fight for equal prize money. More than most, she and her sister
Serena have had to
hit their way past ancient, prejudicial attitudes. But the women should
collectively recognize how dangerous a precedent it would be to finesse this
issue, compromise in the interests of maintaining a prize revenue stream, even
in the face of global recession.
For one thing, tennis does big business in
American markets think New York, Los Angeles and Miami with large Jewish
populations. The men, who follow the women to Dubai next week, may want to
remember that, too, along with the companies that sponsor these
Scott had done business in Dubai since the early
1990s when he worked to create the mens tour stop. He could only guess why the
powers that be drew a hard line in the sand over Peer, stepped back from
commercial ambitions that created the Dubai Sports City and even floated the
idea of a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics they never did make.
No doubt the Israeli invasion of Gaza made it
harder there for progressives. In detailing the devastating effects the
financial downturn has had on the Dubai economy, The New York Times recently
reported on a rollback on news media freedoms and government
Its a complicated world we live in,
Scott said, and always thorny when it comes to Israelis and international
We have seen Olympic officials turn into ostriches
when Iranians have packed up their gym bags when matched against an Israeli.
When it comes to basketball, a sport Israel loves and happens to be pretty good
at, its teams are relocated to Europe, a region it has almost no chance to
Tennis, though, is a globetrotting sport of
individuals, choosing its tour stops based on merit and good will. Last year,
Peer did play in Doha, Qatar, which at the time had low-level ties with Israel.
She was the first Israeli to play in a Gulf-Arab state. She has also played
doubles with Sania Mirza, a Muslim from India in a partnership that has evoked
cheers and jeers.
Just last month, Peer faced a small, noisy protest
of Israels Gaza incursion during a tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. There
is always going to be international conflict, and athletes in the middle. But
they cant be abandoned there when there is a choice. Tennis should finish its
business in the gulf this month, and say bye-bye, Dubai.
Good for Venus Williams to say something. Good for Larry
Scott to say something. Now what are they going to
do? This year, not next year.
Frankly, Mr. Scott, this is not "complicated" or "thorny" at all.
If these pros have any integrity and guts, one after the other they
will get on the court and, at each match's start time, walk off. Then, at the
end of the non-matches, Larry Scott will announce that this concludes the
Dubai part of the tennis tour - unless and until all players are allowed to
I doubt that they will. But I hope they do. How great that would
Thank you Dubai, the "enlightened" Arab state, for
showing us what the current state of enlightenment really is.
DAVID PATERSON'S WELL PAID PALS
David Paterson may be the accidental Governor of New York, and he may be a bit
of a dimwit (ok, more than a bit). But that doesn't mean he can't figure
out how to extravagantly pay off his staff while all the "little people" are
told there isn't any money for raises.
Here is the story, from Fred Dicker of the New York Post. Please pay
special attention to the last two paragraphs, which I've put in bold print:
STAFFERS GET SECRET RAISES AMID
Last updated: 2:30 am
Posted: 1:59 am
February 16, 2009
ALBANY - Gov. Paterson
has secretly granted raises of as much as 46 percent to more than a dozen
staffers at a time when he has asked 130,000 state workers to give up 3 percent
pay hikes because of the state's fiscal crisis, The Post has learned.
The startling pay hikes,
costing about $250,000 annually, were granted after the governor's "emergency"
declaration in August of a looming fiscal crisis that required the state to cut
spending and impose a "hard" hiring freeze.
One raise was approved as
recently as last month - when Paterson claimed the budget deficit had reached an
unprecedented $15.5 billion.
The raises, which have
stunned the few state workers who know about them, are outlined in data obtained
from the office of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, prepared at The Post's
Two of the raises were
tied to publicly proclaimed promotions - granted despite the supposed hiring
freeze - of some of Paterson's most important appointees, although the
announcements didn't include disclosure of the pay hikes.
The remaining 14 raises
appear to have gone to individuals who remained in their same positions, despite
claims by a spokesman for Paterson that they had been promoted.
"These are not raises for
old positions, rather new salaries for new positions," Paterson spokesman Errol
But a DiNapoli spokesman,
Dennis Thompkins, said flatly, "These are individuals who stayed in their same
position and received a salary increase."
Paterson's top aide, William Cunningham, a
one-time law partner of the governor's father, Basil, saw his pay jump 5 percent
to $178,500 - just $500 less than Paterson himself - from $170,000 on Nov. 7,
after he was promoted from a temporary "acting" secretary to permanent.
Charlotte Hitchcock, one
of Cunningham's deputies and a personal friend of the governor's, received an
$18,000, or 11.25 percent, raise on Dec. 22. While a press release said she was
promoted from deputy secretary to "chief of staff" and "director of financial
regulation," it made no mention of a higher salary.
Cassie Prugh, a
confidential assistant, was given a 46 percent pay hike in late November,
raising her annual salary to $125,000 from $85,721, while Gaurav Vasisht, an
assistant counsel, received a 6 percent, $7,427 increase in December, bringing
his salary to $130,279.
Brendan Fitzgerald, a
special office assistant, received a 21 percent, or $15,737, pay hike only last
month, bringing his salary to $90,000, while Michael Deloach, another
confidential assistant, saw his pay leap 29 percent, or $18,200, to $80,000 in
Lauren Passalacqua, a
confidential secretary, saw her salary jump $12,000, or 31.5 percent, to
$50,000, while the salary of another confidential aide, Chardee Mendoza, was
hiked $10,000, or 28.5 percent, to $45,000.
Disclosure of the
secret pay hikes comes as Paterson is under attack for spending well over
$20,000 in state funds on a four-day stay for himself and several aides during
President Obama's inaugural last month, and for planning a state-funded junket
to Davos, Switzerland, which he canceled only after his plans became public.
Paterson, in his
budget proposal outlined in December, demanded that state workers who belong to
the Civil Service Employees Association and the Public Employee Federation forgo
negotiated, 3 percent pay hikes that would kick in April 1 or face massive
Eliot Spitzer had to resign in disgrace because he was buying the services of
hookers and trying to hide the expenditure.
But watching this dimwit, who admitted to using campaign funds to bed
his girlfriends, along with buying clothing and furniture, etc., and
now is shtupping his pals with money while state workers have to suck it up and
get nothing, suddenly Spitzer doesn't look half bad.
How long before media - not just the New York Post but the rest of it -
start putting moves on Paterson and demanding that he resign?
It can't happen too soon.
PAKISTAN WITHOUT MUSHARRAF
Sometimes you don't realize what you've got until it is gone.
In the case of Pakistan, it's a matter of realizing that you've got a sack of
manure, but that the alternative is a far bigger, more dangerous sack.
That's what the geniuses who pushed and prodded and insisted we move away
from pervez musharraf didn't realize (or, worse still, maybe they did).
The Associated Press explains, via excerpts of today's
report from Peshawar, in the affected region:
Pakistan inks truce deal with militants in NW
By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer Riaz
Khan, Associated Press Writer Mon Feb 16,
1:29 pm ET
PESHAWAR, Pakistan Pakistan agreed Monday to suspend military offensives
and impose Islamic law in part of the restive northwest, making a gesture it
hopes will help calm the Taliban
insurgency while rejecting Washington's call for tougher measures against
A U.S. defense official called the deal "a
negative development," and some Pakistani experts expressed skepticism the truce
would decrease violence. One human
rights activist said the accord was "a great surrender" to
Elsewhere in the northwest, missiles fired by a
suspected U.S. spy plane killed 30 people in a house used by an extremist
commander, witnesses said. It was the deadliest of almost three dozen apparent
American attacks on al-Qaida and Taliban targets in the semiautonomous tribal lands
close to the Afghan border since last year.
Monday's peace agreement applies to the Malakand
region, which includes the former tourist destination of the Swat Valley, where extremists have
gained sway by beheading people, burning girls schools and attacking security
forces since a similar agreement broke down in August.
U.S. officials complained the earlier accord
allowed militants to regroup and rearm and urged Pakistan's government to
concentrate on military solutions to the insurgency in the rugged frontier
region, where al-Qaida leader Osama
bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
The new agreement intensified that
"It is hard to view this as anything other than a
negative development," a senior Defense Department official said. He spoke on
condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of relations with Pakistan and
because he was not authorized to speak on the record.
There was no official comment in Washington
because government offices were closed for the Presidents Day holiday.
Among the participants was a pro-Taliban cleric
who authorities said would return to Swat and tell militants there to disarm,
although there was no mention in the agreement of any need for extremists to
give up their weapons.
Many analysts questioned whether the fighters
would listen to the cleric and said they doubted the deal would stop violence.
Critics asked why authorities were responding to the demands of a militant group
that has waged a reign of terror.
"This is simply a great surrender, a surrender to
a handful of forces who work through rough justice and brute force," said Athar Minallah, a lawyer and civil
rights activist. "Who will be accountable for those hundreds of people who have
been massacred in Swat? And they go and recognize these forces as a political
force. This is pathetic.
The Swat Taliban, which had said Sunday it would observe a
10-day cease-fire in support of the government's initiative, welcomed the
"Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of
Shariah law," Swat Taliban
spokesman Muslim Khan said. "If this really brings us the implementation of
Shariah, we will fully cooperate with it."
Shari'a law is what they wanted, and shari'a law is what they got. No
problem under the current ruler.
How soon before all of Pakistan is under shari'a law, and the lunatics come
knocking at Afghanistan's door?
Then who will the media blame? Bush?