More than a slap on the wrist, but not much more, considering his crimes

Apparently crime doesn’t not pay all that badly: former State Senator Vincent Fumo, 66, the most corrupt politician in Pennsylvania, who stole millions from the state and the people, got a whopping 55 months in federal prison.

Convicted on 137 counts, the initial sentencing guidelines called for between 21 and 27 years. The judge reduced the guidelines to 11 to 14 years, and then decided to sentence Mr Fumo just to 4 years and 7 months.

In contract, former Philadelphia City Councilman Rick Mariano, convicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, fraud, money-laundering, bribery and filing a false tax return, was sentenced to 6½ years.

To top it all off, U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter gave Mr Fumo until August 31st to report to federal prison, another six weeks of freedom.

Fifty-five months in federal prison won’t be fun for Mr Fumo, but in all probability he’ll survive his far-too-short term and return to some of the homes and luxuries he stole from the people.

He’d have gotten more time in prison for knocking over a Seven-Eleven.

Justice has not been served.

Assassinating Enemies and Loose Lips

Some find it offensive that enemy leaders would be targeted for death. While war involves destroying objects and people, direct action against selected individuals is usually not part of the plans.

Yet there were exceptions made when the target individual is one deemed to be of very high value. An effort was made to kill Edwin Rommel by a British team. The “Desert Fox” may have been given too much credit for his military genius and was eventually killed through a forced suicide. His writings from World War I reveal him to be a person of decency with a respect for human life, even of his enemies.

In Japan, the Imperial Palace was never attacked by U. S. bombers. The Emperor was to be immune from harm because of the reverence shown the person by the Japanese public. Yet Admiral Yamamoto was intentionally assassinated in a well-coordinated operation. His schedule for an inspection tour was obtained by American codebreakers and his plane was shot down. The Admiral was never part of the military clique that favored war with the United States but his death was expected to deprive the enemy of a brilliant leader and harm Japanese morale. Details of this mission were kept very secret by the Americans for fear of massive retaliation against allied POWs. News of this operation were reported by Japanese authorities and not by the American military.

An earlier assassination effort against Reichsprotektor Heydrich did succeed and the massacre at Lidice followed. The Nazi thug (commonly known as the Hangman) was deemed to be far less than an officer and a gentleman by the German Navy earlier in his career but his lack of integrity made him a natural candidate for a high role in the Nazi apparatus.

The leaders of Al Queda do not measure up to the decency of a Rommel or Yamamoto and are more of the Heydrich type. Their elimination by any means should have been a prime military imperative and remain so. Details of any such operation should never have been revealed as long as such monsters are in a position to do harm to innocent persons.

What is the objective of those who wish to reveal details of such operations? Is it an infantile voyeurism or a vile attempt to weaken our ability to protect American lives that goes beyond vicious partisanship into the realm of treason?

If potential patrons are unwilling to spend money to visit the art museum, why should Pennsylvanians be taxed to support them?

From today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:


Full-price Sundays back at Art Museum¹


By Jennifer Lin, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

Jackie Hanks, here for the weekend from Corpus Christi, Texas, was all set to take a quick spin through the Philadelphia Museum of Art yesterday with her husband and their two boys.

That is, until she got to the entrance and found that it would cost $32.

Hanks was disappointed to learn that the museum has curtailed its Sunday “pay-what-you-wish” policy, which she had read about in a tourist magazine.

Without enough time to spend, the family passed on the museum.

“When I read in the magazine that the museum was free on Sundays, I thought, ‘How cool is that?’ ” Hanks said. “But we don’t have enough time, and for that price, I just said no.”

In a sign of the times, the Art Museum has scaled back its reduced admissions on Sundays. Now, only the first Sunday of the month is “pay what you wish.” Other days, it’s pay what we ask: $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for teenagers. Children 12 and under are still free.

Yesterday was the first Sunday for the new policy.

The museum announced last month that the economic crisis was forcing it to change its approach to ticketing and raise rates across the board by $2. The last increase was in 2007.

Can you give me one good reason why hard-working Pennsylvanians should be taxed to support museums if the potential patrons aren’t interested enough in them to shell out a few bucks to get in?

Everybody wants things, but it doesn’t seem like people are willing to pay for them.
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¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Monday, 13 July 2009, p. B-1

Maybe it would be easier to take global warming seriously if the high priests of climate catastrophe weren’t such amazing hypocrites

From Darleen Click, we learn that His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales believes we have but 96 months to Save the World:

Direct from god Gaia: The Divine Right of Kings

When I last posed the question of what the fundamentialist religion of Environmentalism is really about I closed with

[I]s this just the use of power to play out their dearest Medieval Times fantasy where they figure they are the lords and ladies and the rest of us are serfs?

Here comes Prince Charles to answer my question.

Just 96 months to save world, says Prince CharlesThe heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James’s Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world.

And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the “age of convenience” was over.

Think about that for a moment. Here is a “man” who has been a hothouse orchid his whole life … never made a bed, never cooked a meal, never held a job or met a payroll, never worried about bills or had to make choices about stretching the household budget so the kid can get into soccer camp and scouts. Yet Prince Charles, pining for the days of old as he travels between his palaces, is telling Mr. and Mrs. Middle-class “Your life stinks of convenience and We Are Not Amused”.

Mrs Click proceeds through some well-merited mockery of the prince, but what amused me was the precision with which His Royal Highness has calculated our impending doom:

Delivering the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture, Charles said that without “coherent financial incentives and disincentives” we have just 96 months to avert “irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it.”

By specifying 96 months, the Prince specifies that the unit “months” is the precision with which his calculations have been taken. It has occurred to me that 96 months might not be quite the Vulcan-precise calculation presented by Mr Spock in Star Trek, but might more probably represent the length of what His Royal Highness might hope to be Barack Obama’s term as President of the United States. Of course, with that type of precision, and the fact that the speech was given in July, t’would be five months into what I hope will be our 45th President’s second term, so perhaps that’s not what the Prince meant. :)

Still, it is entirely possible that His Royal Highness was being overly optomistic: former Vice President and Nobel Laureate Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., said in December of 2008, that the North Polar icecap would completely disappear in five years:

Mark that one down on your calendar, boys and girls: there will be no Christmas in 2013, because Santa’s workshop will have sunk! (Hat tip to serr8d.)

Of course, his film An Inconvenient Truth claimed that we had ten years from 2006:

We have just 10 years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tailspin,

so there we are again, at 2016 — apparently three years after the North Polar cap melts away.

Perhaps some of our friends on the left who believe that we must make serious and fundamental changes in our lifestyle to avert a catastrophe brought on by global warming would be better served in making their arguments if they didn’t have such obvious nutjobs — and hypocritical nutjobs, to boot — making their arguments. How seriously am I to take Mr Gore’s arguments that we must act now to save the world when he flies around the country and the world in private jets, dumping tons of carbon into the atmosphere, to bring us his message?

Public records reveal that as Gore lectures Americans on excessive consumption, he and his wife Tipper live in two properties: a 10,000-square-foot, 20-room, eight-bathroom home in Nashville, and a 4,000-square-foot home in Arlington, Va. (He also has a third home in Carthage, Tenn.) For someone rallying the planet to pursue a path of extreme personal sacrifice, Gore requires little from himself.

Then there is the troubling matter of his energy use. In the Washington, D.C., area, utility companies offer wind energy as an alternative to traditional energy. In Nashville, similar programs exist. Utility customers must simply pay a few extra pennies per kilowatt hour, and they can continue living their carbon-neutral lifestyles knowing that they are supporting wind energy. Plenty of businesses and institutions have signed up. Even the Bush administration is using green energy for some federal office buildings, as are thousands of area residents.

But according to public records, there is no evidence that Gore has signed up to use green energy in either of his large residences. When contacted Wednesday, Gore’s office confirmed as much but said the Gores were looking into making the switch at both homes. Talk about inconvenient truths.

As for His Royal Highness, it gets difficult seeing a man who has been pampered his entire life, who has almost anything he wants delivered to him, and is waited on hand-and-foot by a staff of servants, a man of many residences, as being anything but a hypocrite when he tells other people that

we can no longer afford consumerism and that the “age of convenience” was over.

Mr Gore wanted to be our leader, and thought that he was the right man for the job of being our 43rd President. Well, I say that it’s high time he actually led! Mr Gore, sell those extra houses. Better yet, tear them all down and replace them with one small, energy efficient home. If you believe that we must sacrifice our lifestyle because it’s the only way to prevent looming global disaster, then lead us by your own example! Your Royal Highness, you can do without Highgrove and Birkhall; Clarence House alone ought to be more than sufficient — and really, even that’s way too much; maybe a flat in Chelsea would suit? — for a family of just four people.

Until they start practicing what they preach, you can count on me giving them exactly the respect that they deserve.

Donald Douglas and the community college system


Budget to decide Penn State tuition

By Bill Schackner, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – Facing deep cuts in its appropriation, Pennsylvania State University trustees yesterday approved raising the base in-state tuition on the main campus by up to 9.8 percent, or $1,280 a year, a decision one trustee called “heart-wrenching.”

It is the more severe of two price plans for 2009-10 that the trustees, meeting on the New Kensington campus near Pittsburgh, authorized administrators to implement, depending on how Penn State fares in the commonwealth’s final budget.

A less-severe price plan, raising the base in-state main-campus rate by 4.5 percent or $590 a year, would be imposed if a 13 percent appropriation cut facing the university is erased over the next seven days. As of late yesterday, there was little indication that any such budget breakthrough in Harrisburg would occur by then.

The yearly base rate on Penn State’s main campus for in-state freshmen and sophomores was $13,014 in 2008-09, and the worst-case plan approved yesterday would be the largest percentage increase since 2003-04.

Even with all of that, Penn State faces a large budget cut. Full disclosure: as regular readers know, my older daughter will be returning to Penn State this fall. I’m not particularly worried, because the United States Army is paying her way. We don’t yet know where the younger Miss Pico will be going to college, but it looks like the Army will be paying her way as well. :)

I bring this up in part due to a couple of articles by Donald Douglas, an associate professor of political science at Long Beach City College.

Political Science at LBCC: Training the Next Generation of Leaders

I love it – slouching behind his keyboard in his junior college office, hurling threats like some 1930′s tough guy in a bar fight. Well, I guess that’s all it takes to be a conservative intellectual.”

**********

Readers might recall my post from a couple of months back: “You’re a Professor, Really?

In addition to the “I can’t believe you’re a professor” slur, I also get put down as “he’s only a junior college professor.” TBogg at Firedoglake perfected it into snark, with “JuCo Toynbee.” The comment at top is from radical leftist Green Eagle, who joined the attackers during my recent go-’round at Brain Rage.

But as I’ve noted many times, when the leftists slam community college professors, it’s a particularly good indicator of their indifference to students of lower socio-economic status. Actually, leftists are all about radical power (and not about not caring, citizenship, and community-building). You’d think leftists would be the first to respect those who work with the disadvantaged. But it’s generally not the case. The “junior college” repudiation is a dime-a-dozen during the online debates.

It’s funny too. There’s really no better place for someone to truly experience our incredible diversity than on the average community college campus: In almost ten years, I’ve had battered women come to me seeking help and personal counseling. I’ve mentored women making the transition from welfare to work, as part of my college’s workforce development programs. As the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported, “The college serves about 530 such students per semester and has the capacity to serve 1,500 per year.” A couple of summers ago, I had a rebellious classroom. It was a difficult situation. A lot of students were unruly, and management was an issue. A student came to my office to share her thoughts. She felt for me. She was a black woman who had lost her daughter to violence. Her baby was strangled at five years old. She was coming back to college after years of alcohol and drug abuse. Our lectures and discussions on civil rights were thrilling. She felt empowered. She was happy to be clean and getting back on track. I almost cried after hearing her story. And she was only unusual in that she openly shared her experiences with me. Lord knows how many of the other stories of hardship and trauma that I’ve never heard about.

Our demographics are as diverse as anywhere in the country. A 2001 study found Long Beach to be the nation’s most diverse city “in a ranking of the 65 biggest cities in the United States.” And a U.S. Census report in 2004 found “that a roughly 13-square-mile area of southern Los Angeles County from North Long Beach to Bellflower to Artesia is among the most linguistically varied swaths of territory in the nation.” It’s not unusual, during classroom discussions on immigration reform, for students to regale first-hand stories on the entrenched poverty and socio-economic islolation found in the region’s unassimilated ethnic enclaves.

I’m getting more and more veterans from our recent wars as well. I couple of semesters ago I had a student who did two tours in Iraq. He went back for his second tour after recoving from a grenade attack that blew off his left calf. THESE GUYS LOVE MY TEACHING. One of my former students is a regular commenter at my blog. I mentioned him previously, in my post on Glenn Beck’s recent “survival scenarios” (see, “Worst Case Scenario? Preparing for Anarchy in America“).

There’s much more to the article, and it deserves to be read. It is Dr Douglas’ second article which really caught my attention:

Can Community Colleges Save the U.S. Economy?

Here’s a little follow-up to my recent post on community college teaching, “Can Community Colleges Save the U.S. Economy?“:

Many politicians and their well-heeled constituents may be under the impression that a community college — as described in a promo for NBC’s upcoming comedy Community — is a “loser college for remedial teens, 20-something dropouts, middle-aged divorcées and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity.” But there’s at least one Ivy Leaguer who is trying to help Americans get past the stereotypes and start thinking about community college not as a dumping ground but as one of the best tools the U.S. has to dig itself out of the current economic hole. His name: Barack Obama.

**********

Only 31% of community-college students who set out to get a degree complete it within six years, whereas 58% of students at four-year schools graduate within that time frame. Students from middle-class or wealthy families are nearly five times more likely to earn a college degree as their poorer peers are. In 2007, 66% of white Americans ages 25 to 29 had completed at least some college, compared with 50% of African Americans and 34% of Hispanics.

The whole essay is here.

It was very difficult for us to pay for the older Miss Pico’s first two years at Penn State, and we aren’t poor. You try pulling $12,000 out of the family budget for tuition! Even with that, she had to take out some student loans — which the Army will also repay! :)

Well, we’re lucky, in that our daughters have decided to take career paths that will get the government to pay for their college educations; in return, they have assumed/ will assume active duty obligations to the Army.

But the military isn’t the right choice for everyone, and isn’t even the right choice for most people: the size of the armed services is far smaller than the number of college students. Dr Douglas demonstrates that the community college systems across the United States perform a valuable service, and as the economy pushes tuition further and further out of reach for a lot of people, community colleges are a good place to start.

And for some people, even a good place to finish. My darling bride (of 30 years, one month and 24 days) is a registered nurse, and she went to nursing school at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia. At TNCC she was able to take some classes at night, when our daughters were very young, after I got home from work, and then, after they were both in elementary school full-time, able to complete her degree during the day. Nursing school isn’t easy, and doing it while you have two small children and a husband needing attention doesn’t make it any easier. But she was able to learn what she needed to learn, earn her Associates in Science degree, pass her nursing boards, and she’s become a pretty good nurse.

Ask yourself: what does a registered nurse, with an AS earn, compared to someone with a BA in English Literature?