Angry New Yorker

Friday, May 28, 2004
Memorial Day - What's the price of freedom?

Every Memorial Day weekend I watch a WWII war movie. For this Memorial Day weekend I rented Bataan, courtesy of Netflix. Bataan was released in 1943, during WWII, before we went returned to the Philippines, and included a very young, pre-I Love Lucy, Desi Arnez as Corp. Felix Ramirez. I was stuck home today waiting for the siding guy to give me an estimate, and so I popped the movie in. This movie would appall the Euro can't-we-all-get along crowd.

The plot centers around a single squad of thirteen men. There's no sweeping battle field; no epic tactics involved. Thrown together from other decimated units, the squad's mission is: blow up a bridge, and prevent the "Japs" from crossing and outflanking the remains of the U.S. army to the south. Everyone dies by the end. Let that sink in. That's a 100% KIA rate by the final credits.

Yet, they accomplished their mission, and if any one line stands out -- the movie is not an epic or star-studded -- it's the line the Sgt., played by Robert Taylor, says to one young soldier. He delivers it at the point when the squad has been whittled down to three, and has just finished a brutal hand-to-hand battle with grenades flying like spitballs, thumping tommy guns spitting clouds of smoke, bayoneting galore, and a samurai sword decapitation (though not with today's ho-hum level of gore). The Sgt. states, without fanfare, that "it doesn't matter where a man dies, as long as he dies for freedom."

But do those words still resonate in 2004? What would we do today, given a political climate evidenced by Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and their minions, were we called upon to fight an all-out-war that would absolutely result in large casualties? On one level the question's more rhetorical than practical, given our military superiority, and the level of technical precision and prowess today's military brings to bear compared to the pre-digital WWII era.

While the world of 2004 is not the world of 1941, and I have great faith in the American people, I wonder if the intestinal fortitude needed to ensure we remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" remains. As a law student, the creeping federalization of criminal law, and the rise of zero tolerance idiocies troubles me deeply. But, freedom ultimately boils down to enough people sharing the values our country was founded upon and being willing to fight for them.

Living in northern Queens, New York City, where the nearest main thoroughfare is Francis Lewis Blvd., I enjoy asking people if they know who Francis Lewis was [bio here]. Few do. Few know he signed the Declaration of Independence, or the terrible price he, along with most of the 56 men whose signatures anchor the Declaration, paid for pursuit of liberty. Francis Lewis's
"house was plundered by a party of British light horse. His extensive library and valuable papers of every description were wantonly destroyed. . . . [the British] thirsted for revenge upon a man, who had dared to affix his signature to a document, which proclaimed the independence of America. Unfortunately Mrs. Lewis fell into their power, and was retained a prisoner for several months had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months."
Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence 193-197 (New York: William Reed & Co., 1856); see also Benson J. Lossing, Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, (reprinting the original 1848 edition).

The price of freedom can be very high. Would I be willing to, knowing it would mean the loss of everything, the death of my dear wife, and a future populace who cared little about my sacrifice, have signed the Declaration? That's a question one can answer honestly only in the middle of the night, while lying awake and staring at the ceiling. The price of freedom can be very high -- as it was for virtually every signer of the Declaration, [see What Happened to the 56 Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence, available at]. Granted Francis Lewis and the other signers didn't know what fate awaited them, but surely they knew what could happen.

Memorial Day is the day we as Americans reflect on the sacrifices made by those who could and did answer the question of "what's the price of freedom?". It's a question worth revisiting every year.

New New York City Lead Paint Law = Less Low-Cost Housing
[Ed. note - NYC's lead paint law is a perfect example of "I told you so" in action. Opponents flatout said one result would be less development, and would hurt the very people it offered to help, but the all-knowing City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, a political lightweight but panderer of the first order, rammed the measure through over Mayor Bloomberg's veto and protests. Miller's hoary rational was it would help "the children." As one pundit said, whenever you hear a plan floated aimed at "the children", hold onto your wallet. Good work, Mr. Miller.]

May 28, 2004
Lead-Paint Law Frustrates Plans for Low-Income Housing
The New York Times

"Two months before it goes into effect on Aug. 2, the city's new lead-paint legislation has caused nonprofit groups and private developers to shelve plans to redevelop buildings for low- and moderate-income tenants.

* * *
Such decisions by potential buyers could leave the future of older subsidized housing developments in the city highly uncertain, housing managers and officials say. Thousands of these apartments are or will be in need of fresh private investment and more governmental assistance as their long-term mortgages come due and their federal subsidies expire.

Frank Anelante, president of Lemle & Wolf, a developer and manager of lower-income apartments, primarily in the Bronx, said he had halted the rehabilitation of two five-story walk-ups in upper Manhattan because the procedures required by the law made apartment reconstruction impractical.

* * *
The lead paint law, Local Law 1 of 2004, was enacted by the City Council in February over a veto by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. It was drafted by the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning and sponsored in the City Council by Councilman Bill Perkins of Harlem.

The 53-page law imposes detailed and stringent inspection and reporting requirements. The rules apply uniformly to pre-1960 apartments in the city, excluding owner-occupied co-ops. Officials of the Bloomberg administration have argued that resources should be focused on areas where lead poisoning cases are most prevalent, principally Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn, South Jamaica in Queens and Mott Haven in the Bronx.

The law requires that all surface edges that rub against each other - friction surfaces - must be treated in vacant apartments so that they can never become a future problem. Some managers say that this effectively means that windows and doors that might previously have been made "lead safe'' - by re-covering the surfaces - will have to be replaced entirely.

* * *
But insurance brokers were less optimistic. Sheldon Horowitz, president of Safe Harbour Group Ltd., an independent insurance agency in West Nyack, N.Y., that has obtained insurance for thousands of older rental apartment buildings, said that once underwriters understood the law fully, they might decline to write policies altogether. If they offer the policies, he said, they may raise their prices prohibitively, decrease their coverage, or both."

Read the entire article here.

The Balance of NYC's Income Tax

[Ed. note - so let me get this straight. . . other cities depend more heavily on more regressive property taxes, while NYC looks more to its high, in comparison to other cities, income tax. And the point is?
The real point, not mentioned in the article, but present sotto voce none-the-less, is that NYC simply can't raise property taxes to parity with the 'burbs. First, beyond the political none-starter nature of any such proposal, many people stay in NYC due to the city's lower propery taxes -- which can easily be several, and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars less than those for a comparable house on the Island, where property taxes are, by any definition, outrageous. Second, should NYC property taxes ever reach parity, then a strong fiscal incentive to consider vacating the five boros would immediately come into play. Why? Well, boost NYC to the equivalent of the outrageous property taxes found in the surrounding suburbs and across the river in New Jersey (which has, on average, the highest property taxes in the country), and this, coupled with the demise of the commuter tax a few years ago might make an extra half-hour commute into the city seem like a reasonable trade-off to many. Ah! What tangled webs we weave.]

New York More Dependent on Income Tax, Study Says
The New York Times, May 28, 2004
New York City's tax base has shifted over the last 30 years, leaving it increasingly dependent - some say alarmingly so - on income and corporate taxes, as well as vulnerable to the boom and bust fortunes of Wall Street, according to a study by the Federal Reserve.

Other cities depend much more heavily on property taxes, which are typically more stable in generating revenue. The study found that while New York City relied more on property tax revenue decades ago, its tax burden has gradually shifted so that the portion of revenue derived from individual and corporate income taxes more than doubled, to about 34 percent, between 1970 and 2002.
* * *
The study does not take a position on any particular remedy. It offers several options to mitigate the boom and bust cycle, including increasing property tax rates and using periodic tax windfalls to lower debt.

The authors found that individual income and corporate taxes accounted for 15 percent of total taxes in 1970, and the remainder made up of property, sales and a variety of smaller taxes. By the late 1990's, income and corporate taxes made up 40 percent, even though rates had not increased significantly.

There are several reasons for the change, economists say. Income tax brackets are not adjusted for inflation, so that as incomes grow over time, more taxpayers are pushed into the higher brackets. In addition, the city's economy has grown since the 1970's, broadening the tax base.

Although property taxes are still the largest source of revenue, they have declined as a portion of the total to 38 percent in 2002 from 51 percent in 1977, according to the city's Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan fiscal monitor. Before raising the property tax rate 18.5 percent in late 2003, the City Council had effectively kept it frozen through much of the 1990's, and growth in property tax revenues has been kept in check by caps on how much the city can increase residential taxes.

Because property taxes are not as vulnerable to economic swings, they are generally considered a more stable source of income. The Federal Reserve report found that while individual income and corporate taxes were plunging during the last recession, property tax revenues actually rose 6 percent.

Nevertheless, the Independent Budget Office reported in 2000 that as a percentage of its tax revenue, New York relied less on property taxes than any of the nation's nine other largest cities.

Experts differ on whether the city's balance of taxes is good or bad. George Sweeting, deputy director of the budget office, said one advantage to having a tax system sensitive to the Wall Street economy was that during boom times, revenue pours in and, if managed correctly, can be saved or used to lower debt.

"In some ways, it's good that we have a more diverse tax structure," Mr. Sweeting said. "Having a variety of sources is not automatically a bad thing."

Edmund J. McMahon, an analyst with the Manhattan Institute, a conservative policy group, said the Federal Reserve's findings showed that the city must rethink its tax structure to prevent one segment of the tax base - income tax revenue - from having an inordinate effect.

"Roughly a third of New York City's personal income taxes are paid by 13,000 millionaires, and when all those people have a bad year, the effect is multiplied," Mr. McMahon said. "It isn't just that they don't buy a Lexus or tip the doorman. They don't pay as much in income taxes."

Read the entire article here.

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Has The New York Times Learned Anything?

The chattering classes have been agog since The New York Times admitted, on Wed. May 26, at A10, that it had published "articles [that] included incomplete information or pointed in a wrong direction, . . . [that were] later overtaken by more and stronger information" and that "[t]he Times never followed up on the veracity of this source [an informant] or the attempts to verify his claims." Right before our eyes the gray lady continues to turn as black as a piece of cheese left in the sun.

But in this self same issue, The New York Times continues its poor news coverage. [Full disclosure, I've been published twice in The New York Times, and interviewed once for a technology article in the Times]. Two pages before the page A10 sackcloth ceremony, in the same Wed., May 26th issue, the Times runs an article, A Routine Burst of Chaoes Leaves a G.I. Wounded, that reads like a DNC anti-war screed. One sentence particularly raised a red flag, because it highlights the viewpoint of the author, Dexter Filkins, [profile here] that, essentially, "oh, dear, things are terrible here in Iraq." On page A8, col 6, Filkins describes the ranking Iraqi officer on the scene thus:
Ayad Salman, the ranking Iraqi officer at the station, directed his men back to their posts. Mr. Salman seemed a tired man, his face drawn, perhaps by the loss of too many friends.
(emphasis added).

Note: That Mr. Salman seemed tired is a factual observation. Writing that is news reporting. However, indicating he's tired because of "the loss of too many friends" is fiction and speculation. If Mr. Filkins' reporting can support the statement, the "perhaps" should have been excised. Yet there it is in black and white. Mr. Salman's face could have been drawn because he ate a bad fig and was up all night, or he had a fight with his wife that morning, or a dozen other reasons. The important point, however, is that the Times' reporter attributes Salman's long, dare I say Kerry-ish face, to the pain of fallen comrades.

As an experienced journalist I'm always willing to give editors and writers the benefit of the doubt, because, unlike democrats who apparently expect perfection from all here in this vale of tears, I know mistakes are made all the time even by the best of us. This doesn't necessarily excuse mistakes, but acknowledges that not every mistake is part of some vast "conspiracy." So, maybe Filkins did speak to Salman, who told him he was tired because of losing friends, or maybe the editor back at the times added this to reflect his/her own world view. But the bottom-line is that this speculation shouldn't have been in the piece at all, which itself, frankly, shouldn't have found a home on A10 of the Times' news well.

New Jersey Is Worse. ;-)

This rush to criminalize everything bad that happens is getting very scary. At least N.J.'s insanity is limited, for now, to the dead garden state. See

May 26, 2004
Dad Charged for Not Using Enough Sunblock
Filed at 7:01 p.m. ET

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, N.J. (AP) -- A man was charged with child abuse for not applying enough sunblock to his mentally disabled 12-year-old for a day at the beach, leaving the boy with severe burns, authorities said.

Walter McKelvie Jr., 43, of Vineland was indicted Tuesday and charged with one count of child abuse and neglect. Authorities were alerted by the boy's mother, who has custody of the child but was not with him at the beach, prosecutor Meghan Hoerner said.

She took the boy to the hospital, then reported the July 20 incident to authorities. The son, identified only as R.M., suffered large, bleeding blisters on his back and face. He'd been at the beach more than seven hours.

McKelvie told investigators he put sunblock on the boy, but the indictment said he failed ``to apply enough sunscreen causing severe sunburn to R.M.'' while he had custody of him.

If convicted, McKelvie could face up to 18 months in prison.

Another prosecutor, Rob Johnson, said the boy's injuries were ``over the top.''

``If you expose your child to that type of risk, you will be prosecuted. It's clearly negligent,'' he said.

Notice especially the idiocy of Johnson. I expect prosecutors to know the difference between mere negligence and criminal behavior, since the two are, with a few exceptions, NOT interchangeable. What next? What social goal is served by jailing him and throwing the family into chaos? Being an fool is not necessarily criminal -- but it's getting close in New Jersey, where fools apparently abound at all levels of government.


Why Should We Care About the U.N.?

Frankly, I'm baffled by the constant refrain, popular in the Eurotrope sphere, that unilateral action is illegitimate without the imprimatur of U.N. "approval". The U.N. is riddled with more corruption than the Brooklyn docks back in the heyday of the longshoreman. A close acquaintanced worked until a month ago with an NGO, and rubbed elbows frequently with U.N. field personnel. Uniformly she found them dumb-as-bricks, or simpletons of the highest order who'd gotten the position because they were the cousin of so-and-so. The now blazing oil-for-food scandal is merely the tip of the iceberg, trust me. And yet, this is the organization we're to supplicate before?

When I was a kid the U.N. was this far-off organization we only heard about at Halloween when "trick-or-treat for UNICEF" was a catch-phrase in certain quarters. As a teenage, my Boy Scout troop held a field trip to visit the U.N. headquarters on the East Side, and I remember the palpable hope that the U.N. could offer a hope for world peace. We imagined solemn, honest and reasonable men discussing matters of import in dignified settings. How naive we were. Today, the U.N. is eager to stick its diplomatic paws into every pot, when it should stick to its knitting to provide a forum for international discussion. Beyond this simple mandate the U.N. has proven itself, time after time, either incompetent or impotent -- take your pick.

Does Al Gore Have a Brain Tumor?

Some near to Al Gore should hold an intervention and get him to a MRI immediately; because I suspect something's seriously wrong up in his gray matter. The man, who came a hair's breath from becoming President, has gone completely loco. Having seen his performance at the event, I thank God Bush won the election, now more than ever. I haven't found a case in history of an ex-V.P. spewing such vitriolic bitterness. And where is Tipper these days? You'd think she'd be trying to keep him from the public eye, at least until the lab results come back.

Yet, Bob Herbert of The New York Times, arguably the most forehead-slap inducing of all NY Times' editorialists, who specializes in sneering condescension of President Bush, said, "[t]he speech was extraordinary; blunt, colorful and delivered with the kind of passion you seldom see in politics anymore." [here] There's good reason why such speeches aren't much in vogue anymore; they make the giver look unhinged. Yet, according to Herbert, it's Bush that's in the dark. Herbert ended his screed puffing:
"[i]t may be that the president never understood what made the U.S. great. In that case, he'd be among those who could benefit most from a reading of Mr. Gore's speech. If he followed that up with a look at the Bill of Rights (it would only take a few minutes), he'd have a better understanding of what this country, at its best, is about."
What a clown.

While on the topic of egregious democrat behavior, I'd be remiss without mentioning John Kerry accusing President Bush of using the war on terror as a photo opportunity. Amazing. Of course, woe to the President if the DOJ didn't provide this warning and something happened. Then, of course, the democrats would be screeching "why did you hold onto to information we needed!?" And to think I was once a democrat, it's truly embarrassing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Quote of the day
"My generation had to figure out what we were ready to die for," Chetwynd recalled Betts telling him. "You kids don't even know what to live for."

Get the context, read the whole thing, Hollywood@War here.

Can Albany be fixed?
Or should we just hope that after the Marines are finished in Fallujah they head up the Hudson to effect a regime change in Albany? That may be the only way Albany ever significantly changes, unfortunately. But hope springs eternal. Why is it needed? Consider the following nugget, from, a website created by Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County Executive, to get the word out about the Fix Albany Political Committee. As he notes:

"[m]any of our legislators in Albany have been more focused on preserving power and the status quo than on solving problems, like capping the costs local counties must pay for Medicaid. In the past 22 years, there have been close to 2,300 reelection campaigns for the State Legislature. In that time, only 30 incumbent legislators have been defeated?less than 1.5%. Moreover, this incumbent body has failed to pass an on-time budget for a record 20 years."

In short, with friends like the politicians in Albany, who needs enemies? I'm not optimistic about effecting the change needed in Albany, but the state of the state could be near to reaching a breaking point. We'll see. In the meantime, visit and sign up for alerts. And then, consider running for office yourself.

Fix Albany

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The Sad State of Today's Journalism

Having spent ten+ years as a journalist, including publishing several articles in major outlets, such as The New York Times, the increasingly prevalent opinionism that passes for journalism pains me. I'm seriously old school when it comes to journalism, with the caveat that journalism is, like most things, a reflection of our own foibles.

Journalists are greatly despised today -- and C-SPAN and the availability of press conference transcripts highlight why. Too many "journalists" don't do journalism; that is report. Rather they recreate to reflect their world view. An extremely well-documented round of this practice, generated by a press conference in Iraq, has been superbly Fisked by Jason Van Steenwyk, a U.S. officer in Iraq who runs a blog called "IRAQ NOW ...... Media Analysis With A Sense of Insurgency" at

As Glenn Reynolds, of Instapundit, notes: "[h]e's [Van Steenwyk] got links and transcripts and he's naming names, which include the New York Times, Reuters, AFP, and more."

Mr. Van Steenwyk states:

"To: the editors of almost every news report I've seen who quote General Mattis saying 'I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my men.'

As exhibit A, I present to you a verbatim transcript of the press conference in question.

As exhibit B, I further note the pertinent part of the conference:

Unnamed Reporter: What happened yesterday at 3 a.m. in Al Qaim? Was there a wedding on? A wedding celebration?

Gen. Mattis: You joined us a little late, as I said to the young lady here, I said how many people how many people go to the desert 10 miles from the Syrian border and hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization? Over two-dozen military-aged males... let's not be naïve. Let's leave it at that.

(Question unintelligible)

Gen. Mattis: I can't...I've seen the pictures, but I can't...bad things happened. Fallujah, I never saw a Marine hide behind a woman or a child or hold them in their house and fire out of the building. I don't have to apologize for the conduct of my Marines.

As you can plainly see, General Mattis clearly shifted his point of reference from the site of the so-called 'wedding party' to Fallujah. When he said he did not have to apologize for the conduct of his Marines, he was contrasting his own Marines' tactics with those of the insurgents, who make a common practice of hiding behind women and children.

Contrast this with these accounts:

Essentially, it looks like they're quoting each other, or some apocryphal Q source material. They're not quoting General Mattis. They didn't even show up at the press conference, and they didn't bother to get a transcript or listen to the tape. But all these reporters are passing their crap off as if they were right from the source material.

Absolutely, completely pathetic.

If this is what passes for news coverage, then they ought to fire their reporters and hire some boy scouts to write for them. At least they'll be honest."

Read his entire post here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004
Less Angry? More perspective?

We've been taking stock of the city's mood and climate over the week, and a number of issues have struck us, which we'll be detailing in future posts.

However, two items stand out in our admittedly unscientific, but representative discussions -- first, that most native New Yorkers over 30 have considered, or are considering leaving New York City, and, second, that despite the polls apparently finding to the contrary, as well as, the general population influx, there is little confidence New York City and New York State will fiscally prosper in the coming decade. Indeed, while NYC has always been very stratified, the stratification is apparently increasing. Generalizations are always dangerous, but as many aging middle-class residents retire to other parts of the country, New York City is once again transformed -- as it has throughout its history. Today, however, it's my belief that those who move into New York City are either freshly minted college graduates, foreign immigrants or the rich, who can easily maintain residences in different locales. For a middle-class professional from, say, the midwest, to move to New York City is fairly unusual.

On a personal note I can relate that of my many childhood friends only one still lives in New York City. The dozen or so others I've kept in contact with have all either moved outside the city limits (i.e., Westchester or Long Island), to other states in the area (primarily New Jersey or Connecticut), or to other parts of the country.

My high school alumni newsletter frequently prints updates of happenings for each class year, and it's striking how many of the blurbs detail alumni no longer in New York City. Now this in itself is far from dispositive, as perhaps only those who move away feel the need to send back news, but it does reveal that the pull of New York City on those born here has waned. As additional evidence, of my spouse's friends a much larger percentage still resides in New York City proper, but the overall trend for native born New Yorkers is clearly out from the five boros.
Given the insane cost of housing, the pathetic state of the public school system, the daily hassle of life in NYC (i.e. long commutes), the ever onerous NY state and city taxes, coupled with the increased spread of amenities (i.e. food, media, Internet, E-bay, etc.) to the hinterlands, once available only in major urban centers, and many New Yorkers realistically analyzing the bottom-line cost/benefit of living in New York City have found the city wanting.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Quote of the day

"GEN. KIMMITT: I don't have the casualty figures for Najaf and Karbala. They're quite shocking because they're so disproportionate, and if I had those numbers, I would tell you that the numbers would be somewhere on the order of 50 to 100 casualties taken by Muqtada's militia to every one taken by the coalition. And it kind of is sad to see a militia like that, so poorly led by a thug like Muqtada that he would allow those young men to fight against an Army as disciplined, as well led, as well trained, as well equipped as the coalition forces, only to see them fight to their death for no reason at all."
- NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director for Coalition Operations, Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 10:20 a.m. EDT

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
[ed. note - Absolutely shameful. By the time NY pays this debt off from the 70's NYC financial debacle three generations of New Yorker's will have born the burden.]


"May 19, 2004 -- NewYork City has finally wriggled off the hook for what's left of that '70s debt. Under last week's ruling by the state's highest court, $2 billion the city was obligated to pay the Municipal Assistance Corp. (MAC) over the next four years will be transformed into roughly $5 billion in state payments to yet another financing entity over the next 30 years.

Forcing another generation of taxpayers to atone for the fiscal sins of John Lindsay and Abe Beame is bad enough. But Mayor Bloomberg's dubious court victory could be the start of something far worse: This deal is a blueprint for plundering the public's credit on a far broader scale.

* * *
The MAC deal calls for the diversion of another $170 million a year from the LGAC sales-tax fund directly to the city. The mayor in turn will assign this money to an all-new entity (the Sales Tax Asset Receivable Corp., STARC), which will use whatever it needs to issue bonds to pay off the MAC debt. Anything STARC doesn't need will be returned to the city budget, creating the very real possibility that the city will actually make money on the deal.

* * *
The issues in the lawsuit defy simple explanation, but the 6-0 Court of Appeals decision boils down to this: Outrageous as it may seem, the MAC Refinancing Act of 2003 is legally airtight.

In the wake of last week's ruling, several distressed New York cities now bumping up against their debt caps — including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, Rome and Auburn — can be expected to seek similar financing packages. After taxing their constituents' grandchildren to provide a windfall for Bloomberg, how can upstate legislators say no to their own mayors?

* * *
Now more than ever, New York needs to amend its Constitution to:

* Prohibit the use of public authorities and other off-budget entities such as STARC to issue appropriation-backed debt on behalf of any level of government.

* Ensure that all forms of state-subsidized financial relief for distressed municipalities must be subject to financial-performance standards with strict state oversight.

* Prevent the refinancing of municipal-bailout bonds, such as the original MAC bonds, for periods beyond their original terms."

Read the entire article here.

The Taste of Cold Steel

[Ed. note - This is pretty amazing. What a message to send to the terrorists. "Here's some cold steel for you!"]

Bayonet Brits kill 35 rebels,,2-2004223179,00.html

OUTNUMBERED British soldiers killed 35 Iraqi attackers in the Army’s first bayonet charge since the Falklands War 22 years ago.

The fearless Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders stormed rebel positions after being ambushed and pinned down. Despite being outnumbered five to one, they suffered only three minor wounds in the hand-to-hand fighting near the city of Amara.

The battle erupted after Land Rovers carrying 20 Argylls came under attack on a highway. After radioing for back-up, they fixed bayonets and charged at 100 rebels using tactics learned in drills.

When the fighting ended bodies lay all over the highway — and more were floating in a nearby river. Nine rebels were captured. An Army spokesman said: “This was an intense engagement.”

The last bayonet charge was by the Scots Guards and the Paras against Argentinian positions.

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Barbarians at the gate

Given the level of anxious hand-wringing on the Senate floor concerning abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, the horrific murder of Nick Berg should have snapped the country, and senatorial blowhards (i.e. Kennedy, Biden, Kerry, and Byrd spring to mind), back to appreciating the actual war we're in. Out in the populi it certainly did; on the Senate floor it took the strong words of Senator Inhofe and Senator Zell Miller to slap some sense into Kennedy et. al. It was long overdue.

Thursday, May 06, 2004
I Want An Apology

From Tom Friedman for a constant stream of self-importance.
From King Abdullah of Jordan for his endless double-talk.
From Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria for their support of cultural pathology in the middle east.
From Maureen Dowd for what poses for wit in her world.
From CNN reporters for collaborating with Saddam's regime.
From Nancy Polosi and other democrats for losing sight of the important issues of the day.
From New York State's legislature for abdicating its duty and bringing NYS to the brink of fiscal ruin.
From the people of Fallujah for the barbarians in their midst.
From radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for bringing misery to his own people.
From Saddam for the deaths caused over his years of terror.

I want an apology!

Ok, seriously, the Oprah culture, of people going before cameras and apologizing, has spun out of control. What's with the constant "we demand an apology" chorus? Did Lincoln apologize to the South for bringing destruction to Savannah? Did Truman apologize to Germany for firebombing Dresden? I don't think so. In the course of history things happen; sometimes bad things.
But, the modern apology fetish, which I postulate began with the rise of the hunt for "closure" is not only bizarre, but ultimately counter-productive. I don't want your apology. And I won't offer one in return.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Stupidity of the Month - April
"Violent military action by an occupying power against inhabitants of an occupied country will only make matters worse."
--Kofi Annan, April 28, 2004

The Bank of New York Doesn't Know Who Wrote the U.S. Constitution

Although the Bank of New York was founded by Alexander Hamilton in 1784 (see history here) its recent radio advertisements probably had Hamilton spinning in his grave.

BONY's recent radio ad, discussing its new free checking, depicted a fictional conversation between Hamilton and Jefferson, with Hamilton urging Jefferson to make free checking the 11th amendment. Jefferson protested he was writing it by hand, and that ten was a nice round number. The announcer ends saying, roughly, that Jefferson's hand cramped before he could ad it.

Flash forward to the past week. Apparently someone at BONY still has a clue and realized with much chagrin that Jefferson had nothing to do with writing the constitution or bill of rights -- he wasn't even there in Philadelphia, though he did correspond via letter with many delegates.
The new ad substitutes James Madison, who did have a huge role in the constitution, for the previous Jefferson character, though the script itself remains the same. Score one for the proper history.

Saturday, May 01, 2004
Ed. note - As the article highlightswe already pay the highest electrical rates in the country... maybe we should learn something from utilities in other parts of the country first, before jacking up rates by 9.2%.

Con Ed Applies for Rate Increases
Published: May 1, 2004

"Consolidated Edison asked the New York State Public Service Commission yesterday for permission to raise electrical rates by an average of about $5 per month for its commercial and residential customers.

An increase is needed, the utility said, to offset rising energy and equipment prices and to help pay for work on underground wiring, transformers and substations. The company is asking for an additional $550 million in revenues, which it said was necessary because of a 20 percent increase in electrical use in New York City and Westchester County over the last decade.

Joan S. Freilich, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Con Edison, said in a written statement that the increases would "make possible the system upgrades necessary to provide the reliable and safe delivery of electricity.'' [ed. note -- right, that's what you want it for, sure.]

Under the proposal, a typical residential customer paying $58.66 per month would see an increase of $5.40, or 9.2 percent. A typical small business paying $116.55 a month would see an increase of $5.04, or 4.3 percent. If granted, after a review process, new rates would take effect April 1, 2005. "

Read the entire article here.

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