Saturday, July 29, 2006

Another slice of elastic loaf, Mahmoud?

Just in case there was a small group of people somewhere in the world that didn't know he was completely insane, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cured that by ordering his government and Iranian cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves."

Allah forbid!

Here is a little review of what Mr. Ahmadinejad perceives as good v. bad:

Pizza = bad.

Weaponized uranium = good.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Madonna's American flag flap?

I'm a Madonna fan. I admit it. Most of my formative years were during the 80's and I'm still a sucker for the stars who launched their careers back then.

So, I shelled out a lot of money to see her perform at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on July 16, 2006. Aside from the lack of air conditioning (it allegedly disrupts her voice) and the 90 degree heat inside by the end of the show, I thought it was a very good performance. She did a few old songs as well as some of her bigger hits over the last few years. It was better than the Re-Invention Tour and probably as good as the Drowned World Tour.

With that said, I arrived at Boardwalk Hall at about 8:45. The ticket said showtime was 8:00. Most concerts start late, so I figured that I would have just missed the beginning. I was a little surprised that she hadn't taken the stage, but happy that I didn't miss anything.

I made my way through the crowd and went to find my friends. As I walked past the back of Boardwalk Hall, I noticed a very large American flag (probably 20x30) clumped up in a pile on the floor. The flag had clearly been hanging on the back wall of the venue, held up by some sort of pully system, but was taken down and "stored" in a pile on the floor.

When I got to my seat, I mentioned it to my friends. They saw the same thing when they walked by to get to their seats. Although we joked about how Madonna probably forces venues to take everything off the wall if it doesn't have her name on it, the four of also remarked that it was pretty rude to have the flag in a pile on the floor. The lights dimmed and she took the stage a few minutes later, at about 8:55.

So why do I mention all this now, 3 days later? Well, the rumor floating around is that the reason Madonna was so late to take the stage was the American flag. She saw it hanging on the wall, as big as day directly across the Hall from the stage, and she demanded that it be removed before she started the performance (it may be that her "people" saw it and they forced the issue, but its a distinction without much of a difference). She got her way. The flag came down.

Now, I didn't see the flag come down, but I did see it in a big pile on the floor. I don't know if the rumor is true, but there is at least some supporting anecdotal evidence that the flag was removed from the wall in some haste.

The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get with her. Why couldn't the flag stay on the wall? Was it going to affect her performance? Does it offend her that much that she wouldn't be able to sing? Was she afraid that people would think she was pro-flag or, God forbid, pro-American? I fully support any person's right to disagree with how the country is run and disagree with the people who run it. What I don't understand is why those same people can't also simply be proud to be an American and why they find the American flag so offensive.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Isn't it too hot to protest?

It wasn't for these crackpots, roaming around Times Square chanting "Free Palestine, Free Palestine" and "Stop World War 3, Stop Israel."

I wasn't impressed.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Bush v. New York Times -- Bush Winning

An Opinion Dynamics Corp. poll conducted for FOX News at the very end of June, after the New York Times revealed the Bush Administration's secret tracking of terrorist financing, shows that the American public is behind Bush on this one. Solidly behind him to boot.

My two conclusions:

One, the overall results of this poll did not surprise me. Overall I hold the American people in somewhat higher regard than liberal pols and the mainstream liberal media. I believe (for the most part) that they have some brains, can take care of themselves without a lot of help from the government and genuinely care about this country and the safety of their families and fellow citizens.

Two, there are some Democrats in this country that still get it. They still hate Bush and aren't so sure about Iraq, but they do understand that the Administration needs to do certain things in order to fight the War on Terror. I'm glad to see that we haven't lost them completely.

Friday, July 07, 2006

FBI: Tunnel-plot leak hurt our investigation

As a regular PATH commuter from Hoboken to my office in Midtown Manhattan, I took special interest in today's news that the FBI has stymied a plot to blow the PATH and its tunnel up in an attempt to flood downtown. Good work!

But I also took great interest in the FBI's acknowledgement that a leak to the press was the reason that this investigation was unveiled today, after three arrests, rather than in a few months after the FBI was sure it had all the plotters:
[FBI Agent] Mershon also blasted the leaking of the ongoing investigation by an unidentified official, and the publishing of a report on Friday by the New York Daily News. Officials later said that the Daily News report was inaccurate.

The person who leaked the investigation is "clearly someone who doesn't understand the fragility of international relations," Mershon said.

"The release makes the investigation more difficult for us; it has greatly complicated what otherwise would be a very smooth relationship, a very smooth partnership, with a number of overseas allied agencies," Mershon added.

Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, added, "It would have been better if this had not been disclosed."

Loose lips sink the PATH. One day the leakers and the newspapers that print their stories are going to cost people their lives. I'm sure that story won't be on the front page, above the fold.

And, as a special f**k you to the New York Times and others that feel the need to print terrorism leaks, I hope the FBI caught these guys through NSA wiretaps, phone call patterns and bank account inquiries.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rebates are not "reform"

The major sticking point in New Jersey's soon-to-be gone budget impasse was Assembly Democrats' insistence that 100% of the revenue received as a result of the proposed increase in the state sales tax be dedicated to "property tax reform." Democrats want to be in the position to give taxpayers a larger property tax rebate so that they can claim victory in the battle to reform the property tax system.

But is a property tax rebate, funded through a sales tax increase, really reform? Or is it, in a way, robbing Peter to pay Paul? Raising taxes just so the government can give more money back at the end of the year is somewhat perverse. Why not just let the taxpayers keep their money in the first place, instead of loaning it to the government in hopes that they will get it back?

What's more perverse is the laughable notion that increasing property tax rebates is actually a reform of the property tax system in this state. The only way to obtain meaningful property tax reform is by reforming the counties, municipalities and school systems that depend on property taxes for their operating revenue.

If only the Democrats would stop the games and actually work towards reform.

Its a deal

Earlier rumors turned into truth. The Asbury Park Press is reporting that a New Jersey budget deal was reached today, after a six-day shutdown of the state government:
New Jersey leaders agreed on a state budget today following a six-day government shutdown that shuttered casinos and threw more than 80,000 people out of work, a high-ranking Statehouse official said.

"They'll be announcing the final elements later this afternoon,'' said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Gov. Jon S. Corzine will announce the deal.

The agreement calls for using half the $1.1 billion to be raised by a sales tax increase to lower property taxes, and using all of the revenue for that purpose next year, a different high-ranking Statehouse official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The deal ends a six-day government shutdown that closed Atlantic City casinos, state parks, the lottery and dozens of different state services, including the work of casino inspectors required in the gambling halls for them to operate.

We've got a budget, with the completely and totally unnecessary sales tax increase and all:
Under the deal, the sales tax will increase from 6 percent to 7 percent. State assembly lawmakers had opposed the tax increase, estimated to cost the average New Jersey family $275 per year.

The Casinos are hoping to be up an running within hours after the budget is signed by Corzine.

Checking into Zulima

Zulima Farber, New Jersey's Attorney General, will be the subject of a special investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Richard Williams (a Republican) as a result of her involvement in the Memoral Day weekend traffic stop of Hamlet Goore, Farber's boyfriend.
In a letter sent Wednesday, Gov. Corzine's chief counsel, Stuart Rabner, directed First Assistant Attorney General Anne Milgram to hand the probe to a retired state appellate judge from Atlantic County, Richard J. Williams.

"Both the public and the attorney general are entitled to an independent, thorough, and expeditious review of this incident," Rabner's letter said, "to determine whether the attorney general sought or received favored treatment, and whether any person involved in this matter violated the law."

What happened at the traffic stop?
Farber said last week that on Friday, May 26, she was in Newark when she received a call from her boyfriend, Hamlet Goore, who sought help emptying a car before police had it impounded.

Farber said she told her trooper driver to take her to the scene, which was 13 miles away in Fairview, Bergen County. She said the trooper did not use the siren, and she did not know if he employed the flashing lights to clear the path.

Farber said she arrived to encounter Fairview's mayor, Vincent Belluci. Local police later allowed Goore, whose license had been suspended, to proceed without impounding his unregistered van.

Previously Farber had called it "absurd" that her presence, with a trooper and in a State Police car, might affect a local police officer's decision-making.

Rabner's letter said, "Media accounts report that one or more tickets were issued and voided."

Farber has a history of traffic-related issues. She missed a potential nomination to the state Supreme Court after news accounts that a bench warrant had once been issued for her refusal to pay traffic tickets.

Previous Zulima:
Zulima, girl, what were you thinking?
Again, Zulima?
Zulima to corrupt pols: Keep your freedom and your pension

Budget deal?

From the Star-Ledger:
Senate President Richard Codey this afternoon said he expects a budget deal to be done by today, and Democrats say the Corzine administration is researching ways to get state government back in business and reopen casinos.

Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) were in a meeting with Corzine this afternoon.

Before going into the meeting at about 1:10 p.m. Roberts said: "We've had a very productive discussion"When asked if a resolution is at hand, Codey said: "I would say so."

Though no deal has been announced, a member of the Assembly Budget committee told The Star-Ledger that a budget containing a compromise offered by Corzine may face a vote in committee as early as later today. Floor votes could then follow.

What are the details? Well, it does include the 1% sales tax hike that Speaker Roberts had been opposed to:
Aides to the governor said Corzine has offered a new plan that would provide 50 percent of the sales tax increase to property tax relief each year if voters approve it in a constitutional amendment. Using a constitutional amendment would mean lawmakers would be forced to use half the sales tax for property tax relief even if there is a big budget crunch. Roberts had wanted 100 percent of the sales tax increase dedicated to property tax reform.

Several Democratic Assembly members who were in Roberts' camp said they were now willing to accept Corzine's proposal.

The Asbury Park Press has more.

It seems that the Democrats have finally agreed on their completely unnecessary tax hike. Good work, boys!

Casino Workers to Democrats: Every heard of a recall?

Not only have the Atlantic City casino workers pledged that they'll "be back" (come back to the Statehouse everyday and carry on until a budget is passed), they are threatening recalls of the Democrats that are holding up the budget:

Casino Workers to Democrats: "We'll be back!"

They may be serious, it may just be rhetoric. But the unionized casino workers from Atlantic City that showed up at the Statehouse this morning for a rally were pissed that the Democrats they elected have so utterly let them down. As you can see from the video, these people are siding more with Corzine, as the union official calls to task Assembly Speaker Roberts:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Code Pink Parade Crashers

Here are a few pictures of chanting ("What do we want? Peace. When do we want it? Now!") Code Pink protesters trying to crash the 4th of July Parade in Washington, D.C. yesterday. They came down a side street and attempted to gain access to the parade route on Constitution Avenue. They didn't get very far, given the 15 some odd very large D.C. cops who blocked their progress. A few "shut ups" could be heard from the people there to see the parade, not the protests.

Little green footballs has some video of the Pinkos at the White House.

Michelle Malkin has a lot more on Code Pink, its leader and their shenanigans.

New Jersey: Sorry, we're closed

Although a bit busy with work and away for the holiday weekend, I've been following the budget fiasco and state government shutdown in New Jersey somewhat closely. I'll save my thoughts for a future post, but for some interesting commentary on Jon Corzine's shutdown, visit the following links:

The Right Side Of The NJ Budget Debate

A Compromise We Can Do Without

Corzine's shell game

[belated thanks for image of gigglechick via Google]

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