Friday, June 26, 2009

Health Insurance Game

These are the people being paid big bucks to make sure you don't get the health insurance policy you deserve. Click to play the game "Who's Waldo?"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Once More, It's Good News for Republicans

Grover Norquist, stretching to win the Wanker of the Day Award:
"I disagree with the idea that this shows problems for the modern Republican Party. I think instead it shows that sexual attractiveness of limited-government conservatism.”
Here's the "modern" GOP platform.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

'Crying in Argentina'

"I've spent the last five days crying in Argentina"
-- Mark Stanford (R-S.C.)
This didn't take long. Someone on YouTube dedicates it to Mark Sanford. As for us, we forgave Madonna for everything after watching her memorable performance in Evita.

Post-Coital Admissions

Nothing is so satisfying to fundamentalist religious types as the confession of a sinner who has learned the error of his ways, even if he's a hypocrite. Heck, especially if he's a hypocrite.

The more loathsome the sins, the more thrilling the confession:
[W]atching Sanford's confession today, I kept thinking about Sen. John Ensign's (R-Nev.) identical confession just last week. The circumstances are surprisingly similar -- during the Lewinsky scandal a decade ago, Ensign voted to remove the president from office, and Sanford voted to remove Clinton from office. When other prominent politicians got caught in sex scandals, Ensign went on the attack, and Sanford went on the attack. Ensign is an evangelical Christian who's promoted the "sanctity" of marriage; Sanford is an evangelical Christian who's promoted the "sanctity" of marriage.

A politician's personal problems are a private matter, but the hypocrisy here is harder to overlook.
These days, it's almost become an early entry requirement for Republican politicians with national ambitions: confess you've been screwing somebody you shouldn't have. Admit you lied. Today, the sheets hadn't even been washed in Argentina before South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford bared his soulful sins.

What's next? Is Mitt Romney going to call a press conference before he's climbed out of his mistress' bed? Will Bobby Jindal leave his wife for a Louisiana nutria, after sending out a press release?

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Funny Farm

It's not just the Republican Party that's acting psycho. The Washington Post has fired its best-read Internet columnist; and Charles Krauthammer is as delusional as ever. He would be; he once was a psychiatrist.

Even so, Krauthammer truly belongs on the funny farm that has become the Washington Post. Where else does anyone take seriously foreign policy advice from Paul Wolfowitz? Or, where else -- other than a rubber room -- would you expect to see a newspaper hosting the certifiably insane Glenn Beck?

Those few times we look at the Washington Post these days, all the sympathy we usually feel for the plight of the traditional, dead-tree press just drains right out of us. Under Fred Hiatt's command, the Post has earned its death sentence.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charity Begins at Home - Ray Sansom's Home, That Is

If you're looking for someone to give all of your excess money to, Ray Sansom's brother has a charity case he'd like to sell you on. The best part is, he claims you might even get some of your dough back!

Such a deal. Even the Sisters of Mercy can't match that!

Unanswered Question

Childers is free, except he " will have to register as a convicted felon living in the area." It's never been explained how, after serving as a state senator for a salary of less than $30,000 a year, he somehow managed to amass millions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Tortures A Fly

For all of you autocratic, torture-lovin', Constitution-wrecking Bush-Cheney lovers out there, one question: Can your guys do this?

Oh, sorry. That was just a harmless catch-and-release during the Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower. We meant this:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reality Bites

Remember when that nut job of a Minnesota congresswoman took the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to denounce the Obama administration for a Homeland Security report warning against violence from right-wing extremists? Or, when Michael Savage claimed he was filing a lawsuit against the administration to demand the names of any right-wingers who are terrorists? Or, Rush Limbaugh's insane gibberish on the same subject? Pat Robertson... Pensacola's own Joe Scarborough... GOP chairman Michael Steele?

Steve Benen remembers:
The DHS report specifically addressed the possibility of violence from anti-abortion radicals and anti-Semitic extremists. And in the last two weeks, Tiller was assassinated and a white supremacist opened fire at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Republican hysteria over the DHS report -- which was, by the way, initiated by a Bush administration official -- was always based more on a partisan scheme than reality, but the incessant complaints look especially misguided today.

Reality has a way of undermining these idiots every time they open their mouths.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Averting Our Eyes

Judith Warner offers a very real article on the murder of Dr. Tiller, with real-life examples of why late term abortions remain an important and needed medical service. The problem is, you won't read it because it makes you too uncomfortable to know the truth:
[S]ometimes terrible things happen to young girls. We have to face the fact that sometimes desired pregnancies go tragically wrong. We have to weigh our repugnance for late abortion against the consequences for women and girls of being denied life-saving medical treatment.
* * *
By averting our eyes from the ugliness and tragedy that accompany some pregnancies, we have allowed anti-abortion activists to define the dilemma of late abortion. We have allowed them to isolate and vilify doctors like Tiller.

We can no longer be complicit — through our muted disapproval or our complacency — in domestic terror.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Pensacola Beach Cyberspace Lifeguard Service

Check out the new web site inaugurated by Pensacola Beach lifeguards. It's titled, appropriately enough,

The site includes daily flag warnings about surf conditions... weather... underwater wildlife that can sting you, and some graphic pictures of tenderized skin found on that familiar beach specie, homosunburnus. It looks like there's more to come, too.

In addition to all that, there's a little history about life guarding on Pensacola Beach; a few old pictures for the moment, not much else.

No matter if someone seems to have taken an air-brush to all those bad years, before former residents' SRIA board member Don Ayres almost single-handedly dragged the agency, kicking and screaming, into professionalizing the life guard service. That was then; this is now.

And everyone should thank goodness for that. Thanks to Don, too!

Due In Port Today

"Due in port today." How many times do we get to say that?

Free tour Schedule at the Port of Pensacola:

• Thursday, June 4
11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–6 p.m.

• Saturday, June 6
11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–6 p.m.

• Sunday, June 7
3–6 p.m.

• Monday, June 8
11 a.m.–1 p.m. and 3–6 p.m.

6-3 pm

Barrier Island Girl was at Pensacola Pass with her camera to capture the event.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

An Arresting Proposal

To follow up on a point we made briefly yesterday, it is our firm belief that the 'race' of evil doers on Pensacola Beach, or anywhere else for that matter, is largely irrelevant. It tells us nothing useful about the who's and why's of bad behavior or, more importantly, how to prevent it. To emphasize race in news reports, as the Pensacola News Journal did this year while covering the annual Mobile 'graduation' migration, distracts from the real causes of criminal behavior and further embeds racist stereotypes in the collective minds of local people.

One can't blame only the news media for the racist stereotypes that pervade America, of course. History demonstrates virtually everyone and every institution has been complicit. Racial stereotypes have been around forever; likely, they will take just as long in the future -- that is to say, forever -- to eradicate. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Newspapers, of course, can report only the facts they are given. When it comes to arrests on Pensacola Beach (and elsewhere, certainly), that means "name, age, address, occupation, and race," so a deputy sheriff at the beach substation informed us yesterday. We can't show you a copy of a typical arrest report because these days, it's all done via digitalized computer entries.

We happened across an old 19th century document the other day about a fellow we don't really have any interest in. The document itself, however, is a minor gem. It records how a man in his thirties began acting very strangely and eventually had to be committed to an insane asylum, where he pretty much disappeared from the rest of recorded history.

About all that one can know about him appears in the intake record use by the legal authorities. That called for much the same kind of information as a modern day Arrest Report does. In the ancient file, the information lists the man's name, home residence, and age ... and then this additional information, which in 1836 was considered relevant:
"Occupation: Gentleman. Status: Lunatic"
Substitute "black" or "white" for "Gentleman" and you may get what we're driving at. Lunatic is lunatic, to use the crude 19th century word for mental illness or defect. (Today, judging from available narrative descriptions of his behavior, the poor fellow probably would have been diagnosed as bi-polar.)

But "gentleman"? What does that tell us?

Quite a lot, it turns out. According to the 19th Century Dictionary, a "gentleman" was defined in the United States as a term "applied to men of education and of good breeding, of every occupation." It was used to describe black men "of education" as well as whites.

To know that this particular fellow became a 'lunatic' although he was well educated and of good breeding is to know considerably more about him than we know about the dozen or so Mobilians arrested on Pensacola Beach for causing a ruckus last month. While the educational grade in school one completed, or the specific schools attended, are hardly sufficient in themselves to allow for an informed judgment about any person, their behavioral traits, or proclivity to obey the law, it's certainly more useful than the cast of their skin.

Like many other northern transplants we've spoken with, we have found the cultural bias against education here in the Florida Panhandle to be worse than curious: it is socially and personally destructive. "Education is the key to success," goes the well-worn cliche written large on banners hanging over many graduation ceremonies this month. It is no less true for being threadbare from heavy use.

So, we will advance this modest proposal for the Escambia County sheriff's substation, and all other law enforcement agencies which create arrest records to be reported in the New Journal: Consider "race" an irrelevancy. We are all children of Lucy, anyway. In a world where everybody is of mixed ancestry and we all come in different shades, race doesn't help much in apprehending suspects, anyway. Law enforcement would be better off using the Crayola Color Chart for skin tone.

Instead, we propose that after arresting miscreants on Pensacola Beach, the policy should be to notate the last grade in school which an arrested suspect completed. Reporters inevitably will follow by including education-level attainments in their news reports:
"Harlan Hoehandle, 28, who was arrested Sunday evening for assault, is a tenth-grade drop-out who can barely read his own name. His cumulative G.P.A. at Public Middle School No. 4 in Mobile, Alabama, was D-minus."
It would explain a lot more about who these people are and why they behave the way they do. Much more than whether they show up as "white" or "black" on a computer form.

Over time, the message might sink in with the general population, too: "Education is the key to success. Lack of it likely will be a ticket to failure and prison."

Monday, June 01, 2009

Monday's Wash Day

We picked on Monday
Because it's wash day,
And we'll wash
Our blues away.
-- From Monday On by Harry Barris/Bing Crosby
For some months, now, we've come to dread Mondays. That's the day the Pensacola News Journal slims down to a featherweight in its vain effort to survive. The paper "boy" -- who looks to us more like a 65-year old "Trucks Gone Wild" driver in a dirty trench coat -- can't even fling the thing into the flower bed; he just drops it out the window and the paper separates itself in mid-air and flies away to share itself with fifteen neighbors.

Not today. Lots of news today, none of it particularly cheery. Let's wash those blue away:
While the 2009 season didn't officially begin until today, the first tropical depression of the year formed last week over open water in the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina. The formation of this tropical depression should be a precursor for all of us to get prepared for another season of storms.
For all of you younguns' out there who don't know how to read dead trees, Derek Ortt and the PNJ's Hurricane Guide will be useful resources for the new tropical storm season. In past years, Ortt has shown himself to be a sober, reliable, and largely accurate storm forecaster. Unlike the Chicken Little news culture being nourished by Cable TV News, the Weather Channel, Rush Limbaugh, and certain politicians, he doesn't indulge in scare-mongering every five minutes. He just gives the facts, ma'am.
A friend and reader who didn't much like our take two weeks ago on the annual Fort Pickens mob scene called this item to our attention this morning by sending it via email. "At least this article doesn't seem racist to me - does it to you??" she sneers.

In a word, no:
At least 2,000 people, many of them high school students, gathered in the Casino Beach and the Fort Pickens gate areas, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan said. * * * There were similar problems in the Fort Pickens gate area.

“Teenagers (were) blocking traffic, getting loud and kind of being threatening and intimidating to residents,” Morgan said.

The incident is deplorable. The PNJ's news coverage, this time, is spot-on. This is one of several disgraceful events that typically happen on Pensacola Beach over the course of a year, with a rhythm almost as predictable as the tides. Want a list?

Start with the Mardi Gras Parade, where lots of Bubba Stumblebums set out to prove that mankind hasn't evolved that much, after all, and litter is your friend. Then, there's "Spring Break," when thousands of college students visit the beach to demonstrate the side-effects of testosterone poisoning when combined with an excess of alcohol. The so-called "Mobile Graduation" weekend we've already mentioned. Soon, we'll have the Bushwacker Festival to look forward to, an entire weekend named after a drink mixed with bad music. And, intermingled with all these official 'celebrations' there are the episodic public misdemeanors and felonies by Navy cadets, high school jocks, road rage crazies, drunks, druggies, rapists and thieves.

Knowing the race of miscreants who deport themselves in such deviant ways does not add any useful information. It's the cultural distress signals they send that should capture our attention. Who raised these people to act this way? Why? How should we as a society respond?

We have lots more questions, few real answers. What we do know is that race is no more relevant to true understanding of such events than the hair color, height, or right-handedness of the perpetrators.

Kimberly Blair gets the Pulitzer of the day, as far as we are concerned, for a well-balanced, short, but fact-filled article on beach rebuilding. As well as we know it by heart, it's still hard to read about the brief, expensive, and ephemeral sand renourishment efforts on Pensacola Beach without concluding that it's a fool's task.

Only one quibble. What gives with this curiously passive circumlocution, buried deep inside the article?

The beach has a history of replacing what Mother Nature takes away. Since September 2004, the beach twice has been renourished to replace sand lost during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and hurricanes Dennis and Katrina in 2005.

"The beach" has a history of "replacing" Mother Nature's wondrous works? Here, we've been supposing all along it was developers, business owners, government pencil-heads, chamber of commerce promoters, and, yes, beach residents who were behind it.

If we had a nickle, we'd bet the original sentence read, "Mother Nature has a history of taking away what the taxpayers pour onto the beach."

His Excellency, Mr. Diplomatic Debtor

If you were in hock up to your hairline for money you borrowed from China, you'd be appointing a "Senior Coordinator for China Affairs and Strategic and Economic Dialogue," and an "Economic and Financial Emissary to China" too. These may be the two most important diplomatic posts the United States has to fill anywhere in the world, and they doesn't reside in the State Department.

The names "Loveinger" and "Dollar" are perfect, too.