Wednesday Night Open Thread

Low wattage tv tonight -- only American Idol for me. Who's going home?

Update: Matt and Lil Rounds in bottom two. I think Matt should go home. Update: Matt's at the bottom, and the Judges save him -- Simon very reluctantly. The other six cheer. Why? Now two will get sent home next week. This new "save" business is silly.

I see the Obamas filed their tax return. The White House has released it here (pdf). Aside from his high income, I find it interesting that Malia's and Sasha's tuition for the year cost $47,000. President Obama also announced plans to simply the tax code to remove the dread from April 15.

Update: We're getting 12-18 inches of snow beginning tomorrow. No spring for us.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    British "Idol" is great (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 09:52:44 PM EST
    or "Britain's Got Talent," as they call the teevee show there.  Anyone else seen Susan Boyle's amazing debut, the Youtube that has gone as wild as the judges and crowd did for the aging virgin, never been kissed, who was mocked by the crowd for her looks -- until she started to sing?  Terrific.

    The You tube's gone viral and (5.00 / 6) (#6)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:01:28 PM EST
    it was amazing - I had chills when she opened her mouth and that beautiful voice came out.

    I loved the change in the faces of the judges and the members of the audience - all of whom were expecting the worst - and I guess the feeling of triumph I felt was in hoping these people had learned something about why judging people on their looks is not always the best way to go.


    She said she always wanted to sing (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by MO Blue on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:29:25 PM EST
    for a large audience. Not only did she perform for the large audience attending Britain's Got Talent and people watching on TV but over 15.9 million people (3 hours ago) viewed her performance on You Tube.

    Definitely a learning experience and a triumph of talent and determination.


    To multiple standing ovations (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:29:17 AM EST
    The performance and the audience reaction/response was as perfect as it gets.

    Such perfect timing (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:47:13 AM EST
    The world needed a touch of what's real right now. I thought she had a special joy inside her during the introductory interviews (backstage and on stage). She did not show any uneasiness in who she is at all.

    People who judge by appearance miss a great deal in life, IMHO.

    Her voice was going to knock people over in amazement no matter what she looked like.

    Simon had her in negotiations with his record label immediately following her performance according to the original reports several days ago. I'll certainly buy her first release.


    Hope that the reports of a (none / 0) (#68)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:17:06 AM EST
    recording contract are accurate. Definitely agree that Ms. Boyle gave everyone who saw her a dose of reality in the best possible way.

    So glad someone posted the link! (none / 0) (#70)
    by NJDem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:32:33 AM EST
    I've meant to post it myself.  The crowds reaction was priceless, as was Simon, simply glowing as he stared and held his face.  

    Earlier CNN.com has a bunch of stories.  Not only should she get a recording contract, but I think Disney should hire her to be the voice in their next princess movie.  


    Love the idea of her being (none / 0) (#71)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:34:21 AM EST
    the voice of the next Disney princess.

    here's a link (none / 0) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:29:10 PM EST
    to the video. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing that.

    I see a movie in our future. (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:57:08 PM EST
    Thanks; linking isn't working (none / 0) (#54)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:59:10 AM EST
    for me lately, must be some software update or something that's screwing up my computer.  And I didn't want to do one of those naughty long URLs to put you through telling me not to do one of those naughty long URLs.:-)

    that was so wonderful (none / 0) (#57)
    by Dr Molly on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:57:16 AM EST
    Here's another that might move y'all to tears:

    Andrew Sings

    Just wonderful. Love that boy!


    Has a learning disability (5.00 / 5) (#15)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:21:22 PM EST
    from being starved of O2 right after birth....which I think is the reason for the bit of tip of the tongue phenom she had on stage.

    Took care of her mother until mother died recently at 91.

    Sings like a bird.

    What an amazing woman.  I hope she wins and gets a spot on Cats (ala Elaine Paige).  She'd be perfect.


    She is amazing and brought tears to my eyes (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by befuddledvoter on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:29:35 PM EST
    Good for her; she was a shocker and what a once in a lifetime voice.  

    Not a shocker (none / 0) (#64)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:33:05 AM EST
    to anyone who didn't judge her by appearance before she sang. Who thinks the voice is connected to fashion or style?

    It was not beauty to which I was referring (none / 0) (#99)
    by befuddledvoter on Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 10:53:38 PM EST
    She looked uncoordinated, uncomfortable and ackward. That is why I was shocked.  I just did not expect such a rich and powerful voice or such presence.

    What a great debut (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by MO Blue on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:26:01 PM EST
    From mockery to amazement in the blink of an eye. Talent wins out. What a fantastic concept.

    Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Really enjoyed it.


    Brought Tears to My Eyes (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by squeaky on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:10:26 PM EST
    Well done.

    Saw it on CNN or something (5.00 / 3) (#34)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:41:43 PM EST
    last night and wasn't paying much attention except to glance at the screen, and figured they were just going to make fun of her-- and then the first notes came out of her mouth.  That is one smooth and creamy and wonderful voice, with perfect control, from what I could hear.  She also didn't over-emote, which was a fabulous change.

    Susan Boyle (5.00 / 3) (#43)
    by bocajeff on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:19:09 AM EST
    When I first saw the clip and watched the judges and audience reactions grow from dismissal to grand acceptance I swear the smile on my face was from ear to ear and then some. What a gift she has given to everyone - first her voice and then the lesson to never, ever judge a book by its cover...

    The whole thing (none / 0) (#58)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:24:04 AM EST
    reminds me of a Harry Chapin song, "Mr. Tanner", with a far better ending.

    April 15 used to be the day (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:24:49 PM EST
    that we were required to remove our studded snow tires.  Anybody else remember those?  That always was a guarantee of a monster snow storm to follow, as late as a few days before May.  

    It's April that goes out like a lion in some of our climes.  Just looked at the Denver forecast -- now saying up to 20 inches . . . or not, with the difficulty in forecasting temps at this time of year.  If not, that will be a LOT of rain -- or worse, that "wintry mix" of muck from the sky.

    Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:33:46 PM EST
    ...it is a more a matter of where the low pressure front sets-up and if we get a good upslope flow going or not.  Kind of like lake effect snow, but with big mountains instead of water.

    A few miles deviation from the prediction and we could just as easily get nothing.  


    Just signed up for classes at the (5.00 / 3) (#22)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:42:40 PM EST
    Brooklyn Botanical Garden. GREAT prices. A 4 night photography class only $120 for non members. It's shooting at dusk, so it should be interesting for me :) Also signed up for Urban Herbs which will be held at the start of their plant sale. It's also during the week so I'll wander the garden after with my camera (plants in tow, lol!~) The last one I'm hoping to take is Vegetables in Containers. Hmmm, just remember I signed up for cooking classes this AM. I have classes set up for May June and July now and when I woke up this morning I had no idea I would be doing this!

    when will you have time (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:05:01 PM EST
    to comment? Save some time for us!

    Heh, I'll prob bore everyone with my (none / 0) (#31)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:22:02 PM EST
    excitement after classes. I like to share fun things I've learned {grin}. I'm super excited about the photography class. I was just looking for classes in growing and skimming over the drawing/poetry/flower gardening stuff and the dusk photography class luckily jumped out at me :)

    Now if I was really smart, I would be studying for my written drivers test and looking for driving classes. I'm moving in 6mos . . . . lol!~

    {Thanks the Spotty B!tch in the Sky for the preview screen} Man, I had some darn funny typos in there, lol!~


    Painting the house (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:54:38 PM EST
    or at least the front part, with the help of a friend who's a handyman and has done it a couple times before.  What a nasty, tedious job scraping the old paint off is!

    We discovered under the paint that the clapboards on my old house are oak, though, which was a very nice surprise and explains why they're in such good shape overall.  The previous paint job, though, not so much.  The previous owners apparently used no primer and just slapped cheap paint on.  Plus they had crummy-looking decorative shutters at all the windows and lots of big heavy old (ugly) shrubs right up against the house, so the paint has been peeling prematurely from all the trapped moisture.  The shutters are now languishing in the barn and I took out the very sickly lilacs and other shrubs.

    Anybody here ever painted their house?  This is my first, so I'd be grateful for any advice/tips, etc.  We're using Benjamin Moore oil-based primer, and terrific high-quality (red) finish paint from the extensive construction materials recycling center up in Burlington, which costs only $9 a gallon for a five-gallon pail!

    Have you tried steaming over scrapping? (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:18:36 AM EST
    Just wondering if you blasted steam over it, the scrapping would be more like cleaning off vs muscle power? When I moved into my place many years ago, I removed a century worth of interior paint off the woodwork. O.M.G. what a freakin' project. And then there were the floors! I can't imagine the outside of a house. Oy. While I don't mind the exercise, I think there is a reasonable limit!

    My Parents had the outside wood of the cabin re-stained/sealed recently, so thankfully, that job is not in my future. The inside . . .  mostly surface cosmetic, YES!!!!! Any thoughts of just sealing up your oak exterior instead of painting? That's basically what I did with the floors here (wood, then painted, then linoleum for a few years with a couple rooms being "tarred/waterproofed"  at some point before the next layer.) After I had removed a century, it was, stain and seal. I honestly couldn't start putting back what I took off, lol!~


    I think steaming isn't such (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:25:17 AM EST
    a hot idea with exterior clapboards.  The last thing you want to do is drive moisture into the wood, is my understanding.

    Same thing with pressure-washing, which isn't even necessary out in open countryside.  I think that's more of a suburban thing.  I have no traffic, no soot, no cursed Norway Maples dripping whatever sticky mess it is they drip.  The walls are quite clean, except for the part under the roof of the front stoop, where rain and our nearly constant breeze don't reach, but we'll do that small section with bucket and brush or the like.

    Hadn't considered sealing, but if that means having unpainted weathered wood-- no thanks.  That would be vastly much more work to get every tiny speck of paint off.  And besides, I like my little red house!

    We're not doing the whole house, either, just the front.  If the budget and my friend's timeline hold out, we may do the one other wall that needs work, or I may wait until next spring for that.

    My north and west walls are in good shape.  It's the south and east that had all the sucky shrubs.  West and north are buffeted by breezes and winds year-round with no obstruction, so no moisture lasts on them and only the bits under the old shutters show any signs of deterioration.


    22 years as a painter (5.00 / 2) (#44)
    by shoephone on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:39:29 AM EST
    (although I specialized in interiors) I would advise you to pressure wash the entire exterior really well. Let it dry out over a couple of days. Then do any necessary scraping that remains.

    Your choice of Benjamin Moore products is excellent. If you are topcoating in red then you really should have the primer tinted to gray. It will help immensely with topcoat coverage! Also, while you are using an oil primer for the undercoat, I would not advise an oil topcoat on either the body of the house or the trimwork. Their latex exterior topcoats are quite good.

    And only use the blue tape, not green tape!

    Finally, be careful. Don't overextend your body on ladders. Only do what you can do without danger of hurting yourself.

    Good luck and have fun! Look forward to hearing the results.


    Good advice, thanks (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:36:26 AM EST
    Some of which I'm doing, so good to know that's the right thing.  I think the primer we got is red.  Is gray better for a red topcoat?  If so, why?  (We've got white primer for the white trim, though.)  And yes, oil primer but latex topcoat.

    Why blue and not green tape?  What's the diff there?

    I'm a bit lucky in that this is an old and very modest and sort of clunky little farmhouse, so perfection in any of it is not only unnecessary but out of character!  And with zero foot traffic on my out-of-the-way country road, nobody ever gets closer to the house than 30 feet or so anyway except for the area around the back door.  So I have plenty of room for minor cosmetic errors.  In fact, I was amazed at how crummy the previous owners' last paint job was when I got nose to nose with it because I'd just never noticed it from a little distance.

    I'm going nowhere near any ladders, either!  My friend is doing the ladder part on one side while I work the stuff I can reach from the ground on the other side.


    It's fine if they tinted the primer red (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by shoephone on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:55:42 AM EST
    The reasons for gray primer are that it hides repairs and glitches really well, and it is a neutral color over which all bold-colored paints (reds, deep greens and blues) will look uniformly solid and not have to be topcoated too many times. Red is the hardest color get to cover well, indoors or out. Benj. Moore will almost always tint the primer to the topcoat color unless you request otherwise. I think you'll be just fine.

    Glad to hear the fivers are re-blended Benj. Moore as well.

    The problem with the green tape is that it is thin and tears when you remove it after painting.

    An old farm house just HAS to be painted red, doesn't it? Have fun with the project.


    And yes, white primer under white trim paint. n/t (none / 0) (#52)
    by shoephone on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:57:14 AM EST
    Thanks! (none / 0) (#95)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:29:28 PM EST
    Good stuff to know.  I appreciate it.

    This is a very modest house-- orginally a "cheese house" that was moved here by horses and big rolling tree trunks sometime around 1900-- that doesn't even have enough character to be ungainly, so its red color is pretty much the only exterior distinction it has.  House numbers have no significance out here, either, so my house is widely know as "the little red house on X Road," and I kinda like that!

    The project isn't a whole lot of fun, but it will be a relief to give the place back a modicum of dignity by fixing its peeling paint and giving it a handsome new set of clothes to face the world in.


    Oh, not Benjamin Moore for topcoat? (none / 0) (#45)
    by shoephone on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:43:38 AM EST
    What is the $9 per fiver paint product? Always go with the best quality paint, not the best price.

    Just my two cents on your nine dollars.


    The "recycled" paint is (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:13:58 AM EST
    really very high quality, mostly leftover Benjamin Moore and the like, reblended. I know a number of people who've used it and have been ecstatic with the results.  When you're talking about a whole house, the price difference is absolutely HUGE.

    Seattle Public Schools are now putting (none / 0) (#1)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 09:22:27 PM EST
    ARMED police officers in four city MIDDLE SCHOOLS. They say they will be "mentors" for troubled kids.

    $8 MILLION Project (none / 0) (#80)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:39:45 AM EST
    not sure whose budget is paying for this, but the radio news this morning said 5 middle schools rather than the 4 reported last night.

    Are we preparing our children for a police state?


    One of my friends pays $40,000/year (none / 0) (#2)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 09:48:30 PM EST
    for private high school, although it is a boarding school.  

    It doesn't seem out of line... (5.00 / 0) (#12)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:15:14 PM EST
    ...that two kids in an elite, private DC school would cost $47,000.  $23,500 a piece.

    Although they weren't enrolled during 2008 (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:40:50 PM EST
    tax year.

    Could have been paid... (none / 0) (#24)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:49:54 PM EST
    ...in advance before the end of the year.  Or a deposit that was applied to this year's tuition.

    Weren't they in private school in IL? (none / 0) (#26)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:01:12 PM EST
    Don't forget, MO lamented about their 10 grand in outside activities when she was trying to relate to the working class's "pain". My rent is less than that per YEAR. (And it was even lower when she said it. Darn rent hikes!*)

    *All of us that have lived in the same apt more than 6yrs got slammed this year.


    Malia and Sasha have always attended (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by caseyOR on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:01:12 AM EST
    private school. In Illinois they were enrolled at the University of Chicago Lab School.

    yes (5.00 / 0) (#41)
    by CST on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:04:42 AM EST
    although if a parent of a student is a professor - the lab school is, I believe, free or almost free.

    Guess that answers that (none / 0) (#62)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:07:17 AM EST
    question. Then, he certainly did no classroom lecturing during 2008.

    I'm biting my tongue (none / 0) (#72)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:41:16 AM EST
    or fingers, in this case, about his working time in 2007-2008 in the Senate.

    I Imagine (none / 0) (#79)
    by CST on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:34:10 AM EST
    By that time they had plenty of cash.

    Being a professor can come with a lot of perks.  Back in the day, they used to pay for your kids to go to college too.  And not just at the U of Chicago.  Full disclosure - my dad went to the lab school that way.  He said it's a shame they had to leave as it is a very good school.  Although I imagine the one they are at now is just fine.


    Yes, the privates have the perks (none / 0) (#89)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:58:13 PM EST
    of free tuition for faculty (and staff) kids for college and for private K-12 schools on campus -- but for fulltime faculty (and staff).  Obama never was that.  So I would be surprised if the Obamas got the schooling for free.  On the other hand, they may have had a parttimers' discount -- or the school may have made other arrangements for the luster of having his daughters there.

    Btw, most states also offer similar tuition freebies or discounts at their public universities for fulltime faculty and staff.  But not mine.  There is something to be said for it, as I feel the pain of other parents and students paying the same as we do.  And even more next fall. . . .


    College tuition (none / 0) (#90)
    by CST on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:11:45 PM EST
    Seriously needs to be dealt with.  Btw - what do you think of this proposal?  Cutting out the middle-men in student loans would certainly help the gov't costs - but would it actually make a difference to students?  I don't know how you control the costs of actual school, but I think that is more important than loan restructuring (although that is still important).  We need students to graduate with less debt not better debt.

    How you control the costs (5.00 / 1) (#97)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 11:46:36 AM EST
    of college, so that students have a choice of an education that is affordable, is called . . . public support.  Through taxes.  That's why public colleges and universities were invented in this great land of ours, aka land-grant (state) universities.

    Since the conservative revolution, nationally and in my state -- one with one of the great public university systems -- public support has dropped so low that the education is now not affordable for many students.  That's what the public wanted.

    And it's what the public still wants in my state.  You get what you pay for, so my state ranks poorly now in educational levels attained -- and thus in income levels.

    Next door to us is another state that, at the start of the conservative revolution, matched us in educational levels attained and in income levels.  It opted to invest taxes in its public university system in those recent decades, while my state's support declined.  So that state next door soared in those measures of educational and income levels, and it became an economic magnet for private r&d -- research and development -- investment.  

    Guess which state now is suffering far more from the current economic depression -- as it is now, by jobless measures and the like, a depression in the state where the public decided to so radically cut back on public higher education.

    In sum, historically, the number-one form of financial aid is public support of public higher education, through state colleges and universities.  We can learn from that history, or we can continue to ignore it and pretend that the way to make education affordable is to privatize it, i.e., through private lenders.


    cx: one of the once-great (none / 0) (#98)
    by Cream City on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 11:51:13 AM EST
    public university systems.  It now has one great campus, only because that campus does not serve as many in-state students and goes for the far higher out-of-state tuition.

    By comparison, the campus in the system that serves the most in-state students -- my campus -- is starving for funds and has been for decades.  The national study of salaries, for example, just is out this week and shows that the faculty are in the lowest percentile, the lowest 20%, of pay nationally as a result of the starving of the campus.  And it is getting worse by the day, with budget cutbacks.  And it will lose its future good faculty, the younger ones, because the governor (a Dem) has decided that there will be no raises for the next two years.  

    There 'tis; turns out it makes no difference whether a state has a Repub or a Dem governor, when what the public wants is to no longer support state colleges and universities.


    I think its sort of interesting (none / 0) (#91)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:15:04 PM EST
    I also think statements like this in the NYTimes are, um, odd.

    "The president's proposal," Representative Allen Boyd, Democrat of Florida, said in a floor speech, "could be detrimental to thousands of employees who serve in the current student loan industry throughout this country, 650 of which are located in Panama City, Florida."

    I would worry more about the people receiving the money than employees of the lending industry.
    but thats just me.


    that's the same thing (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by CST on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:20:57 PM EST
    they say about cutting out the middle-men in healthcare.  They don't seem to care about the people receiving healthcare, just the pushers.

    they were in private school in Chicago (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:57:51 PM EST
    They didn't start school in DC until 2009.

    How can anyone afford college after that? (5.00 / 2) (#23)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:48:14 PM EST
    Are they in that upper percentage (rhetorical question?)?

    We were talking college tuition last night at dinner. 2 of the guys have 5yos at home. I sure hope something changes in the next few years. I can't imagine how hard this must be for some (most?) parents. I always joked when I had pets instead of kids, that I didn't have to deal with teenagers or college tuition. Joke's not so funny anymore . . .


    Elite private-school educations pay off (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:03:50 AM EST
    as they often lead to such kids pulling down big college scholarships -- merit-based, not need-based.  I've seen it happen with the elite school in my community.  Parents pay now for the top colleges to pay the tuition later, plus the kids get into top colleges.  Heck, if I'd had the money (instead of still paying for my own college tuition and then loans), I would have looked into it for my kids.  Pay now, pay later, you're gonna pay, and this way, they get into top colleges.

    Not to mention that if the girls want to go to Columbia or Harvard (or a couple of other colleges, I think, with Occidental as their father's first college, and their mother's almae mater, too) -- they will be legacies.  They might as well already be enrolled in classes yet to be scheduled.


    Private schools (none / 0) (#11)
    by BrassTacks on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:14:16 PM EST
    In and around DC cost $20,000 to $30,000 a year, and they have long waiting lists!  It's amazing how many people want out of public schools and are willing to pay the big bucks.  

    I feel sorry for the poor black kids in DC who couldn't get out and finally got vouchers so that some of them could go to schools like the one that the President's children go to.  And now some want to make them go back to the really bad DC schools.  They should be punished like that just because they are black and poor.  Two of Malia and Sasha's classmates are going to have to leave their school, because of the new Sec of Education doing away with their vouchers.  That's just wrong.  Those poor black kids should be able to go to that school, just like rich kids can do.  This really angers me, and the Washington Post agrees with me.  


    Uh, before backing vouchers (5.00 / 3) (#67)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:05:50 AM EST
    beware, and see the first solid, long-term studies of the effects in the first city with a sizeable voucher system.  No measurable impact on the kids' education, no better than public schools -- even though the voucher system devastated the public schools and the city, with the strain on its residents in paying for two parallel systems . . . paying more than $1000 extra per voucher student, as mandated on them but not funded by the anti-urban state legislators and governor.  Nor did they mandate any accountability.

    The only real benefit has been to the Catholic church, using that money to build big new additions on schools that were going to be closed, and to the fly-by-night scammers that set up storefront schools without books or teachers who had at least completed college or even high school.  And look to the backing of the voucher system from the start -- arch-conservative foundations and the Catholic archdiocese.


    Pitchmen on Discovery (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 09:48:37 PM EST

    Extremely low business expenses claimed (none / 0) (#5)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 09:56:48 PM EST
    resulting in very high net business income and very high taxes paid.

    Well done.

    and lots to charity (none / 0) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:05:24 PM EST
    6.5% of your income given to charity (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by OPlo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:54:10 PM EST
    is nice but not overly impressive in my book. Biden is much worse at $1,885 or .7% - and that's up from $995 or .3% of his income from 2007. Sad.

    5.7% in 2007, so up a little from then (none / 0) (#94)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:27:23 PM EST
    But, 2007 was mostly to churches, which aren't 100% charitable in use.

    Wasn't most of his "business" income (none / 0) (#8)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:10:42 PM EST
    from book royalties? That was the implication on the news. If so, that would result in low expenses since your mostly just cashing checks . . .

    Yep, no new books in 2008 (5.00 / 0) (#56)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:11:19 AM EST
    when Obama was a bit busy.  But now he gets to be what we call "between books," which does allow some latitude in preliminary research for the next one, even if not yet the writing (or ghost-writing, whichever, but that wouldn't have been in 2008, either).  However, at his income level and with his visibility for every Repub looking for scandal, he was wise to not attempt such business expenses.  Those can be hard to explain:  "Uh, I took that trip for a book I'm still thinking about doing in 2012 or 2016, whichever" -- and who would believe he had time for a research trip last year?  It was hard enough to find time for the couple of family vacations as well as the trip to bury his grandmother.  And if he had spent a day in a library, the media would have known.:-)

    Depends on how many (none / 0) (#35)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:44:56 PM EST
    "research assistants" (cough!) you employ in writing your book, how much travel you "have to" do yourself to do your own research, etc.  I think some of these guys can manage to spend a very large amount of dough in "writing" their books.  Good for him if he didn't go that route.

    But his books weren't written last year. (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:59:47 PM EST
    But he did get a boost in royalties, um, sorry, sales, due to the year that it was. It should be all gravy at this point, right? And how many "research assistants" do you need to write your life story/thoughts twice?

    As a commercial artist, I've spent many years doing the "business" tax thang. I would love to get his royalties (I could actually afford the tax on it!), especially if I designed something a year or more prior. But I would also laugh if someone said high income, low expenses. And feel damn lucky. But then again, I'm used to working my a** off for my money, not having royalties show up in those kinda sums :) I honestly don't think he could have gone the 'cough' route. He was too visible by choice {understatement}.


    Oh, no -- when you get snow (none / 0) (#9)
    by Cream City on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:11:35 PM EST
    we get it a few days later.  And we're finally going to see 60 this week.  Of course, that always happens before the last, late-April storm of the year.  I was just dreaming of actually being able to get out the other sort of shovel, the sort for the garden.  Sigh.

    60 here tomorrow (none / 0) (#13)
    by nycstray on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:16:14 PM EST
    for the stadium opener. Not like we'll be outside much though, lol!~ It will be a beautiful day for pictures :) Then on to 70 Friday, so I think I'll wander the 'hood and hit the new butcher that carries all grass fed to see what he has and my fav mom n' pop cooking store. Sat will hit 73 {happy dance}

    Lots of updates. (none / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:12:09 PM EST
    I hope your guarantee of snow on Friday is in fact accurate, Jeralyn.  

    I could use another snow day and I really didn't want to go to the Rockies game if it was going to be cold and wet.  

    Jeralyn, if you do indeed get the forecasted (none / 0) (#14)
    by Anne on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:19:18 PM EST
    snow, will that be the latest you've ever gotten it?

    It's been "April-showering" here for the last two and a half days - we really needed the rain - but it's supposed to be nice tomorrow through the weekend, so that will be quite welcome.  I love Spring here in the mid-Atlantic, but it is ever so much better with sunshine!

    it usually snows once (none / 0) (#27)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:02:59 PM EST
    around May 10. I always remember it because it's a friend's birthday and very close to Mother's Day. But it's usually a day thing and then we are done.

    Usually we get lots of snow in March, hardly any in April and then once in May. This year we got none in March -- it's all in April.

    It's a nuisance for things like knowing when to turn the outside water back on to start sprinking the law. Usually it's late March, but I haven't done it yet since it's still snowing frequently. And I've never gone from heat to air-conditioning as early as I did this year. Usually I don't do that until April, but we've had so many 75 degree days I've had to keep switching between them.

    Not a big deal, just confusing.


    sprinkling the lawn (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 11:03:36 PM EST
    correcting typo above

    Been out on that Townie yet? (none / 0) (#46)
    by Spamlet on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:47:49 AM EST
    You inspired me, though I didn't get an Electra Townie.

    Had a guy take a nicked-up blue Schwinn frame and build me a custom bike from it. It's hunter green with a black spring-mounted seat and black grips on cruiser handlebars. Has a kickstand, a bullet-style headlight and a flashing LED tail-light, and whitewall 700 tires. It's a 3-speed with twist-style shifter and a Shimano Nexus internal-hub coaster brake. And an old-fashioned bicycle bell!

    Thanks for the inspiration. I've re-created the best of my 1950s childhood bicycling experience, with a few modern bangles and bows. Think I'll go out and get a Christmas tree and park this rolling work of art under it.


    we should email on nice days (none / 0) (#53)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:42:31 AM EST
    and set a time to go....even though we are in different cities, it's better with a partner. We could email again when we got back.

    I can't wait to ride the Townie, but it's too cold here yet. Next week for sure, after the snow is gone.


    I'm in (none / 0) (#96)
    by Spamlet on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 03:32:19 PM EST
    Let me know when you're expecting a nice day. It's nice here already (Bay Area).

    Sorry about the snow (none / 0) (#48)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:14:43 AM EST
    How awful for all of you who have had so much snow this winter.  I also read it was the coldest winter ever in the East.   Is this cold weather because of Global Warming or something else?  Whatever it is, it stinks.  :(

    Why are you sorry? (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:54:18 AM EST
    Why is it awful?  Without the snow, we dry up and blow away--and/or have wild fires all year long.

    We'll take all of the fluffy white stuff that we can get, thank you very much.  


    July and August... (none / 0) (#78)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:25:04 AM EST
    ...are the only two months that it hasn't snowed in Denver--at least in recorded history.  

    The latest Spring snow on record is June 12, which occured in 1947.  The earliest Fall snow is September 3rd, which happened in 1961.  


    Flat tax anyone? (none / 0) (#19)
    by diogenes on Wed Apr 15, 2009 at 10:33:09 PM EST
    The thing speaks for itself.

    I agree with some elements (none / 0) (#60)
    by Bemused on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:43:30 AM EST
    of the "flat tax" position.

     I'd support a regime where taxes are assessed against total income from all sources with no deductions, exemptions or credits or distinctions between earned and unearned income. (I would keep the rollover exemption for gains realized from the sale of a  primary residence rolled over into a new primary residence.)

      Where I depart, though is that I would then establish  very progressive marginal tax rates. I don't have the knowledge necessary to establish brackets and rates whivch would achieve approximate revenue neutrality but I'd begin with a 1% rate against income below  say $5-10,000, gradually escalating to a rate of 90% on income above a very high amount of say $10-20,000,000.

      That would result in a much simpler system but without the absurdly regressive nature of the "flat tax."


    Long been intrigued by it... (none / 0) (#76)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:18:55 AM EST
    I like fair and simple.

    But any tax reform talk is mute until we tackle spending...first ya need to know how much money ya need to best figure out the best way to raise that sum...hard to do when some government agencies have unlimited and confidential budgets.  We've been doing it backwards...they set a tax code and then spend it all and them some...no good.

    Uncle Sam needs to come up with a fairly firm yearly budget number, then we can talk about the fairest, simplest, least tyrannical way to raise that number.


    Who says you can't return TARP funds? (none / 0) (#59)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:27:00 AM EST
    From my local paper this morning:

    Shore Bancshares Inc., the Easton-based holding company of three banks on the Eastern Shore, said Wednesday that it repaid $25 million to the federal bank bailout program, buying back 25,000 preferred shares it had sold to the U.S. Treasury. The lender also paid accrued dividends of $208,333, according to a prepared statement. The company filed a notice last month with the Treasury to repay the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. The company said then that the terms of TARP had changed and that the public wrongly views banks as weak if they accept public funds. Other banks also have returned funds.

    Bloomberg News

    Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

    And yet, on NPR Marketplace just (none / 0) (#73)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:03:45 AM EST
    yesterday it was stated banks can't just return the money--something about permission needed.

    DoJ invokes "state secrets" again (none / 0) (#61)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:47:19 AM EST

    The Justice Department has invoked the state secrets privilege in a bid to get a California federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit against National Security Agency electronic surveillance.

    Department lawyers filed a memorandum to U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker last Friday urging him to dismiss the lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA. It argued that litigating the case would require disclosure of classified information protected by the privilege.

    The plaintiffs in the case, represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, are alleging that the NSA has surveilled not only the communications of suspected terrorists, but the telephone calls and emails of millions of Americans.

    But the Justice Department -- buttressed by public and classfied declarations from Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair and NSA Chief of Staff Deborah A. Bonnani -- said the case shouldn't proceed

    "Attempting to demonstrate that the (Terrorist Surveillance Program) was not the content dragnet plaintiffs allege, or that the NSA has not otherwise engaged in the alleged content dragnet, would require the disclosure of highly classified NSA intelligence sources and methods about the TSP and other NSA activities," the Justice Department told Walker.

    A sad ending. (none / 0) (#69)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:30:47 AM EST
    Some of you may recall the story of the female wolf from Yellowstone that had wandered down into Colorado in an apparent attempt at finding love and happiness on her own that I posted about awhile back.  

    It is with much sadness that I read this morning that she has been found dead  

    very sad (none / 0) (#74)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:06:24 AM EST
    such magnificent creatures.

    Indeed. (none / 0) (#75)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:18:07 AM EST
    And a vital link in our ecosystem.  We wouldn't be having the problem of overpopulation of deer, elk and coyotes if we had the presence of wolves.  

    Plus, nothing cooler than hearing the howls off in the distance late at night while camping in the high country.  


    George Will has finally gone around the bend (none / 0) (#77)
    by Capt Howdy on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:22:21 AM EST

    Demon Denim

    what an absolutely unbelievable load of shallow, ignorant, superficial, elitist crap.
    I knew the man was an idiot but until now I honestly did not grasp the scope of it.

    Oh gawd... (none / 0) (#81)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:41:26 AM EST
    For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it.

    Here's a hint for you George, don't bother coming out West.  We don't live by the WWFAW rule.


    Reading This, Lotsa People Are Scratching (5.00 / 2) (#82)
    by daring grace on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:21:59 AM EST
    their heads and wondering: "Who's Fred Astaire?"

    Ohhhh, George...


    But Then Again (5.00 / 1) (#84)
    by daring grace on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:29:42 AM EST
    Those same people would probably ask "George, who?"

    Who's George Will? (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:45:20 AM EST
    Cop Suspended For Off Duty Joking (none / 0) (#83)
    by daring grace on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:28:33 AM EST
    about a homicide victim that was recorded on video and posted to the web.


    In my neck of the woods, (upstate New York around the capital), I have a hard time imagining a law enforcement officer getting suspended (even with pay) for this.

    Aside from the embarrassment factor for the department, and the insensitivity factor for the victim's survivors...

    Does this surprise anyone else?

    I'm not condoning the comments, but at the same time, it seems par for the course in that I'm not surprised a PO might make these kinds of comments about things (s)he encounters in his job.

    I'm surprised... (none / 0) (#88)
    by kdog on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 01:08:35 PM EST
    if you're off duty you're off duty and have the right to as perverse a sense of humor as you want.

    Officers I've known have said (none / 0) (#93)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 02:23:35 PM EST
    the ability to make jokes out of horror is what helps many maintain their sanity through all they see.

    Risen & Lichtblau (none / 0) (#86)
    by squeaky on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 12:46:30 PM EST
    Are on the case. Sounds like the NSA has run amok. Or believes that Cheney is still running things.

    The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, according to government officials.

    Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in "over-collection" of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to be unintentional.


    The overcollection problems appear to have been uncovered as part of a twice-annual certification that the Justice Department and the director of national intelligence are required to give to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on the protocols that the N.S.A. is using in wiretapping. That review, officials said, began in the waning days of the Bush administration and was continued by the Obama administration. It led intelligence officials to realize that the N.S.A. was improperly capturing information involving significant amounts of American traffic.

    NYT via war & piece