Category: Current Events


Update on Elder Law

Apropos of Eric’s last post (well, sort of), I came across this article over the AP discussing the recent trend away from nursing homes:

The New York State Health Department, which estimates that caring for seniors in home and community settings can cost up to half as much as nursing homes, is responding to the trend: State officials hope to get a federal waiver this summer that will let up to 5,000 elderly and disabled nursing home residents on Medicaid get the same care elsewhere.

Over the past several years, a majority of states have applied for similar waivers. For many seniors, the shift is welcome news.

The little old lady from Pasadena, indeed!


Karl Rove’s happy photogenic aide


The New York Times front page is running a photo of Karl Rove. Alone? No — the photographer is careful to include the smiling woman at Rove’s side. Meanwhile, the lead pictures at Yahoo — taken from a different angle — again include the same woman, and she’s smiling some more. (Rove himself is smiling in a few of the pictures, and kind of glaring in a few of them).

So who is this woman who is awarded photo space on the NYT and Yahoo front pages? She must be someone important. Is she Rove’s chief lawyer? A family member? A close friend?

Nope — according to the caption at Yahoo, the woman in the photos is Rove’s executive assistant, Taylor Hughes. No further explanation is provided. Based on today’s pictures, I’d say that her job is apparently to stand near Rove and smile brightly whenever pictures are being taken. This is a probably good strategy, too, because Rove himself often looks pretty glum. I guess she really is important.


Rove not to be charged

A few months back, we discussed an online news report at Truthout suggesting that Karl Rove would be indicted for Plame-related events. That report appears to have been premature — today, the story hit the wires that Rove won’t be charged. From the New York TImes:

Mr. Rove had testified that he had initially forgotten about that conversation, and that his memory had only been jogged after his lawyers found an e-mail from Mr. Rove to Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser — now the chief security adviser — referring to a conversation with Mr. Cooper. Mr. Rove had essentially argued that it would have been legal suicide to knowingly lie to a grand jury about a conversation with a reporter.

That argument seems to have been crucial in staving off an indictment. Mr. Fitzgerald, according to several lawyers in the case, believed — at least initially — that Mr. Rove’s effort to find the e-mail meant that he must have already known of its existence. But Mr. Luskin offered an alternative account, at one point switching from his role as a lawyer, offering himself as a witness.

It sounds like Rove and his lawyers handled the investigation as well as they could have. Meanwhile, a new post at Truthout argues that there is still a sealed indictment related to the case. At this point, given the public statements of parties in the case, I’m not betting the mortgage on it.


The Pop-Up President

President Bush has made a surprise visit to Iraq this week. Even Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, had no idea he was coming. During the past few years the President and other members of his administration have with some frequency popped up in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places unannounced. Is this normal behavior for a President? Anybody know whether prior Presidents regularly surprised us and their hosts with unannounced trips abroad?


Al Zarqawi and the Marriage Amendment

Within hours after the U.S. Senate refuses to write discrimination into the Constitution, the U.S. Air Force is led to and kills #1 Iraq terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

It can’t be a coincidence. Jerry Falwell must be right after all:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.’

Well done.


One Way to Stop Cheating: Jail

Chinese educators have been dealing with an outbreak of cheating via cellphones on college entrance examinations. Further, plagiarism of research papers is becoming a problem too. Apparently the Chinese government has now gotten involved:

Earlier this month, three people were arrested for selling fake exam papers over the Internet for 1,000 yuan a subject [.]

The government warned the public not to fall for the scam, noting that exam papers are state secrets and those caught leaking them face three to seven years in prison, it said.

I am generally in favor of harsh punishments against those who cheat or plagiarize their academic work. In the instances where it has happened, I have taken it personally. How dare someone cheat in *my* class?@!??$ However, in this instance, even I will admit that perhaps the punishment may not fit the crime. Aside from hard jail time, what are the best ways to keep students honest?


This is Democracy

The Philadelphia Inquirer, under new management, has a shocking good article on tomorrow’s ward leader elections. The entire article reminded me quite a bit of The Last Hurrah. Here’s a taste of what big city politics still look like, at least in my neck of the woods:

In the 18th Ward in Fishtown and South Kensington, City Councilman Juan Ramos ran a slate of committee candidates, knocking out several incumbents, and is seeking to unseat eight-year leader Lynn Farrell . . . . “I wanted to keep a close eye on my neighborhood, but she apparently did not want me to be part of the ward structure,” Ramos said. He said he would make the party “more active” and open.

It will be up to 34 committee members, meeting at Farrell’s home on East Montgomery Avenue. The incumbent says she has 22 votes locked up, but anything can happen. Ramos considers the race too close to call. Farrell has collected sworn affidavits from poll workers who say that Ramos and his supporters browbeat voters on primary day. For their part, Ramos forces protest the location of the meeting and say they have notified the 26th Police District that they may need help.

[And elsewhere in the city . . . ] John J. Dougherty, leader of the electricians’ union and a potential mayoral candidate [is running for re-election as party treasurer.] A source of friction was the 73 electricians Dougherty encouraged to run as ward committee members. He said 68 won . . . .

The strange thing about Philly, in light of all of this sausage making mess, is that the corruption that comes to light is petty ante. You rarely see the huge swindles here that you do in other towns, and local politicians, when caught, have stolen merely in the five to six figures. That really isn’t much, given that we’re still a moderately large town, with an operating budget of around $4 billion. Shucks, our pols can’t even wipe their data efficiently!


Don’t Know Much About Driving

In the spirit of fair and balanced reporting, here now some positive news about our non-East Coast readers. According to a new study, the nation’s drivers with the least knowledge of the rules of the road are in the East: in Rhode Island to be exact–followed by Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Next time you cross a street in Providence, Boston, Newark or Brooklyn, keep in mind that one in three drivers don’t think they have to stop or slow down for pedestrians and one in five have no idea roads are more slippery when wet. Oregon has the most knowledgable drivers, followed by Washington State. Vermont is third–the only Eastern state in the top twenty-five.

In fairness to East Coasters, knowing how to drive might not necessarily translate into skill behind the wheel. New York cabbies seem oblivious to rules but their passengers are rarely injured.


The Conservatives’ Gay Kids

With the Federal Marriage Amendment coming before the Senate this month, it’s a good time to ask: why do so many conservatives have gay offspring? To name just a few: Phyllis Schlafly (son, John), Dick & Lynne Cheney (Mary), Randall Terry (Jamiel), Sonny Bono (Chastity), Alan Keyes (Maya) and Pete Knight (David). Meanwhile, those liberal Kennedys of Massachusetts appear to have no gay children of record. Is there something about the Republican lifestyle that leads to homosexuality?


The Longest Pending FOIA Request

In 1989, William Aceves, a graduate student at USC, requested information under the Freedom of Information Act about a federal “Freedom of Navigation” program. Seventeen years later, the request is still pending. Since making the request, William Aceves finished graduate school (presumably having found a different topic) and law school and he is now a tenured professor at California Western School of Law.