“Ben Stiller can stab a Medal of Honor winner (NOTE: Stab but not kill. He’s not that good.)”

Ace of Spades is speculating on what crimes celebrities can get away with committing, based on their artistic contributions.

Notice a Pattern??

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a list of cities over 250K strong, ranked by poverty level.  Here are the top twenty-two, which are all of those with more than 20% in poverty:

  1. Detroit (Mayor: Dave Bling, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since 1962)*
  2. Cleveland (Mayor: Frank G. Jackson, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since 1990)
  3. Buffalo (Mayor: Byron Brown, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since 1966)
  4. Newark (Mayor: Cory Booker, Democrat, with Democratic mayors since at least 1962)
  5. Miami (Mayor: Manuel Alberto Diaz, Independent but former Democrat who endorsed Obama; history of mayors’ parties unknown)
  6. Fresno (Mayor: Ashley Swearengin, ran a “Republican-like campaign” history unknown)
  7. Cincinnati (Mayor: Mark Mallory, Democrat; Democratic mayors since 1984, but hasn’t had a Republican since 1971)
  8. Toledo (Mayor: Carleton S. “Carty” Finkbeiner (or Wikipedia’s just messing with me), Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1990)
  9. El Paso (Mayor: John Cook, mayoral races are non-partisan, but all signs say liberal; history unknown)
  10. Philadelphia (Mayor: Michael Nutter, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1952)
  11. Milwaukee (Mayor: Tom Barret, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1960, before that, 3 Socialists, a “non-party” (kind of like an independent?), a Democrat/Republican fusion, and Democrats since 1908)
  12. Memphis (Mayor: Myron Lowery, Democrat, Democratic mayors since at least 1992)
  13. St. Louis (Mayor: Francis G. Slay, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1949)
  14. Dallas (Mayor: Tom Lepper, “considered a Republican;” mixed history)
  15. New Orleans (Mayor:C. Ray Nagin, Democrat, Democratic mayors since at least 1936)
  16. Atlanta (Mayor: Shirley Franklin, Democrat, Democratic mayors since at least 1942)
  17. Stockton, California (where?) (Mayor: Ann Johnston, party affiliation and history unknown)
  18. Minneapolis (Mayor: R.T. Rybak, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1977, Democratic or Independent since 1974)
  19. Pittsburgh (Mayor: Luke Ravenstahl, Democrat, Democratic (or Independent/Democrat) mayors since 1934)
  20. Tucson (Mayor: Robert E. Walkup, Republican, Republican mayor since 1998, Democrats 1987-1999)
  21. Chicago (Mayor: Richard M. Daley, Democrat, Democratic mayors since 1931)
  22. Columbus, OH (Mayor: Michael B. Coleman, Democrat, since 2000, mixed history)

There are a few exceptions, but I think the pattern is clear. 

*BTW, the official mayoral residence for Detroit is called Manoogian Mansion.  Sheesh, they deserve to be poor just for that.

72 Hours for the Public to View New Legislation

This resolution, which would allow for new legislation to be posted on the internet for 72 hours before a House of Representatives vote,  is currently stalled in the House.  I just emailed my representative to request that he support it.  Please consider doing the same.

“At Fatburger, you can order a Hypocrite — a veggie burger topped with crispy strips of bacon.”

Awesome.

Joy Behar is kind of an idiot. Even when I agree with her.

When I first heard that Joy Behar was getting her own show on CNN, I did some serious eye rolling.  Now, I try like hell to avoid shows like The Viewas much as possible, but somehow they just manage to seep into the world’s collective unconscious. (Things I seem to have an encyclopedic knowledge of, despite all my most rational desires: The View, Oprah, Paris Hilton, John and Kate + 8, The Batchelor, etc.).  Anyway, when I have watched The View (entirely not on purpose!), she sounds useless and shallow.  When I hear quotes from her, she sounds, well, useless and shallow, but usually also mean and nasty.  But, whatever, right.  I mean, who watches CNN anyway

But, I do depend on their website to get regular updates at work (Fox’s site pretty much sucks, and everything about MSNBC pretty much sucks), so I couldn’t miss her (debut?)article in CNN’s commentary section. 

On a recent tour of a Ukrainian orphanage, Elton John and his partner met Lev, a 14-month old HIV-positive boy.

They immediately fell in love with the child, but their possible bid to adopt the adorable tiny dancer was rejected by Yuriy Pavlenko, Ukraine’s Family, Youth and Sports Minister.

Mr. Pavlenko, here are some tips about family, youth and sports. Family doesn’t mean a huddle of orphans sharing a few soiled mattresses, it’s not youth if you die of AIDS before you reach kindergarten, and wrestling over dinner scraps is not a sport.

So, instead of leading with facts or argument, she starts right off with being a smartass.  Charming.

But that could be Lev’s fate now, because the Ukrainian government said Elton and his beau David Furnish are too old to adopt the boy. It sounds like the real reason is they’re too gay.

John and Furnish tied the knot in 2005, becoming one of Britain’s first gay civil unions, but Ukraine doesn’t recognize gay unions.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesman Father Georgy Gulyaev called Elton John a sinner and said, “thank God it’s impossible under Ukrainian law for [him] to adopt a child.” Apparently in the Ukraine, God’s No. 1 priority is preventing gay couples from giving sick kids a better life. God would never want something like that to happen.

More with the sarcasm instead of argument.  I’m willing to bet that this woman thought that “No Bushit” bumper stickers represented the hight of intelligent political discussion.  But what really gets me is the “it sounds like” argument.  Why does it sound that way?  Because somebody in the country (not the person who denied the adoption) said something against homosexuality?  Or because it fits her narrative? 

Notice how off-handedly she buries the reason that the Ukrainians gave for denying the adoption.  And notice that she doesn’t mention how old Mr. John actually is (he’s 62, or about 14 years younger than my grandfather, who will welcome a great-grandchild this year).  It’s not in any way unusual for a 62-year-old to be denied the right to adopt, except for the fact that most of them probably wouldn’t even try, knowing that 40-ish is the cutoff almost everywhere:

The other option [as opposed to trying to get a baby in the U.S.] in pursuing an infant adoption is to consider countries that are more flexible concerning the age of the adopting parents. For some years, couples up to age 43 have been able to adopt from Korea or India . Those over 43 will find some Latin American countries that take applicants. African countries are very flexible on ages of adopters. China wants applicants who must be 30 or older, while Russian and Bulgaria have been open to those in their late 40s, especially for preschool age children.

So, if Mr. John had attempted to adopt in 1989, he would have had a hard time of it, gay or no. 

Now, here’s where I do agree with Ms. Behar.  I do think that, given this extra-ordinary situation, Mr. John and his partner should be able to adopt this child.  First, although I’m aware of the research indicating that gay parents are fine, I’m skeptical.  It’s still too new of a cultural phenomenon to draw thorough results, and you are going to have a hard time convincing me that the majority of the researchers don’t have an agenda on this issue.  That said, I think that it is at least very likely that a child is better off in a stable home with gay parents is better than a lot of alternatives, such as a Ukrainian orphanage.  (I’ll add that I don’t know the conditions of this orphanage, and although Ms. Behar lists some common stereotypical poor country orphanage complaints, she offers no support for the idea that this child’s situation was that bad.)  So, even if I’m skeptical of the idea that gays are always as good as a mother and a father, I’m not holding it against Elton here.  (At the risk of sounding mealy-mouthed, I’m not saying I’m against gay adoption in general, just that I’m on the fence.)

Second, I’m not troubled by the age thing.  Sure, there are a lot of problems with older parents, but, again, these are extra-ordinary circumstances.  While I hate to put consideration for one’s wealth above other concerns, I don’t overlook that Mr. John is a man of very significant means, and he can ensure that a child is well taken care of, even if he and his partner are unable to provide it.  And, once again, we have the alternative is a poor country orphanage argument, and given the fact that the child is HIV positive, he may have a reduced life expectancy besides.  Let a chance at a real family brighten up what life the child does have. 

Third, I’m not even at all bothered by the phenomenon of celebrity child shopping.  When we are talking about children who, in their home countries, would probably lack access to good education, healthcare, social development, etc., I really don’t care that a celebrity might get some self-congratulatory attention out of the deal.  Doesn’t matter a bit to the child that is not dying of malaria, in my opinion. 

Of course, why would we consider all of this, when we can just throw in some good old fashioned ethnic stereotypes, instead?

He’ll likely end up in foster homes and — if he lives long enough — maybe he can turn into a bitter, vodka-swilling drunk. All because the Ukrainian government won’t let him be adopted by two loving gay parents who are fabulously rich and want to give him a home with the best healthcare available, dressed in Versace jammies and cashmere Huggies. Not to mention all the play dates with Brangelina’s kids.

Obama wants more school time

I’m not quite clear on what he’s actually proposing, but here’s the idea that the president is preaching these days:

Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president said earlier this year. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom.”

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

“Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

I don’t think that I would actually hate this idea, except for the fact that it seems to me like kids already spend just an insane amount of time in school not actually doing anything.  When I was a student (I graduated HS in 1998), I strongly remember watching a lot of movies; I don’t think that it was an exaggeration to say that we watched at least one non (or barely) school related, popular-type, full length movie a week, if not more throughout a lot of my schooling.  It got to the point that I remember my parents complaining about it so much that I intentionally stopped mentioning it to them when they asked about my day.  Middle school was particularly bad; I remember my 8th grade history teacher letting us watch Back to the Future, specifically joking that if anyone asks, we should just say it is kind of “history.” 

Even in high school, we didn’t watch movies as much, but we had a lot  of down time.  Many times throughout the year, some smartass would “suggest” to the teacher that we have a free day, and the other students would echo the plea, of course, and more often than not, teach (particularly the older ones) would give in.  We would play cards, or chat, or nerds like me would read or something. My parents could never figure out why I so rarely had homework- it was because there was so much downtime that I could get it done easily during most days!

Now, I’m working on the assumptions that 1) my experience was typical (I never felt too far behind my peers in advanced education, so I think that’s safe) and 2) that things haven’t changed that much since I left school (I see no evidence, and would note that I aced law school despite being several years older than most of my classmates).  Assuming these are the case, we would benefit a lot more from making better use of the time that we have than extending the time to waste.  (And I’m not saying that it’s wrong to have a class party or something creative and fun now and again, but, in my experience at least, it can be taken to extreme). 

I don’t know how you fix that on a federal level; I’m not sure that you can.  It really strikes me as the sort of thing that the parents have to demand locally, and hold the schools accountable.  Thoughts?

My Responses to News that Acorn Might Have Actually Told Someone

Or so says the police office for which the disgraced Acorn employee’s cousin works:

  NATIONAL CITY, Calif. —  Police say a worker with the activist group ACORN who was caught on video giving advice about human smuggling to a couple posing as a pimp and a prostitute had reported the incident to authorities.  

Vera was fired on Thursday.

National City police said Monday that Juan Carlos Vera contacted his cousin, a police detective, to get advice on what to with information on possible human smuggling.

Vera was secretly filmed on Aug. 18 as part of a young couple’s high-profile expose.

Police say he contacted law enforcement two days later. The detective consulted another police official who served on a federal human smuggling task force, who said he needed more details.

The ACORN employee responded several days later and explained that the information he received was not true and he had been duped.

First Response: Relief.  As amusing as it might be to see this horrible organization disgraced, I am truly distressed to see people who claim to help others, who surely believe that they live a life of helping others, acting in such an inhumane manner. 

Second Response: Confusion.  Umm, why did it take him two days to report this?  What else was going on?  Why was he fired anyway?