Thursday, April 27, 2006
FEMA Changing Ticket to Ride
I think I’m gonna be sad,
I think it’s today, yeah.
The girl that’s driving me mad
Is going away.
She’s got a ticket to ride,
She’s got a ticket to ride,
She’s got a ticket to ride,
But she don’t care.
The Beatles, being from across the water rather than under it, were not referring to FEMA. Many evacuees are upset because they think FEMA is trying to change the ticket in midstream, telling many recipients of long term housing vouchers they are going to have to pony up for utilities. It is really just a big misunderstanding.
You see, FEMA has two programs for rental housing. The voucher ride provides free housing and utilities "for up to a year", and you can get it regardless of "need" if you hail from a disaster-stricken area. The other program, the "individual assistance program", just sends you a check for your rent. So what, you say, so its just utilities? No, no, no, that program has a couple of much nastier drawbacks. First there is the matter of need. If your home wasn't damaged much, or your insurance covered all the loss, you may be ineligible for free rent. That was no problem under the voucher ride. Worse, there is that $26,200 limit on the total FEMA can provide a family. Well, the voucher ride doesn't count, but the individual assistance does. And it is really not fair, because all those trailers (100,000 so far) don't count either. FEMA officials say the trailers don't count because they are not as "comfortable" as apartments. "Say what?" you say. No, if you think about it you can see why FEMA has to be able to pick what counts and what doesn't. I mean, you really couldn't charge folks for the boat ride or the Superdome seat. So judgment is required.
Naturally, people on the voucher ride understood that they were promised a whole year. FEMA says "up to" means could be less, and the recipients, as well as landlords and state and local officials, say it means all the way up to. They have a point. If you are "up to" your neck in do-do, it isn't just waist deep.
And naturally again, there are some communication problems. Many of the cut-off letters gave as a reason category "ineligible - other". According to the NYT, one poor lady had put the insurance proceeds from her destroyed house into investments that matured at the end of her free year, and here came the cut-off letter. She would like to appeal, but the letter gave no reason, saying she was "previously notified of the reason". Pshaw! Why doesn't she go ahead and appeal and in the space for reason, just put "previously notified".
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Two Prong Approach Enhances Plastic Reindeer Defense
The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal concerning a school's refusal to post a kindergartener's poster because it included a picture of Jesus. The assignment was to design a poster on environment. Jesus didn't have much to say about the environment (we will check with our consultant) but he was presumably in favor of it. Anyway, that wasn't the problem. The concern was about the establishment clause of the Constitution, which prohibits government, in this case the kindergarten, from establishing any religions. The artist's parents sued the school district on the grounds that the refusal to post violated his free speech rights, and discriminated against religion. Of course we can't have kindergartens interfering with the speech of 5 year-olds, any more than we can have them establishing religions. Sure, years ago when you were in school they interfered with speech all the time, but that was before there were so many lawyers.
The refusal to post occurred over 7 years ago, so the case has been very expensive for the school district. This is all unnecessary, and the purpose of this blog is to show how a more intelligent strategy can avoid that legal expense. Pay attention, even if you aren't a school district. If you receive any government funds, even Medicare Part D, and like to put mangers in your yard at Christmas, this could save you a lot of grief.
We are talking about two prongs here, and the first prong is of course the plastic reindeer defense. This was explained in our posts of December 9 and 21. Suffice here to note that you can't "push" one religious view over another. Here the school failed to take the most elemental precaution of including posters with other religious pictures (we can assume there were plenty with "no religion"). Surely a few hints to these preschoolers would have produced some Buddha ones, and Kwanzaa would really be easy: (Hey Johnnie, wouldn't some funny marks look great on that tree?"). An actual plastic reindeer might take a little too much coaching, but surely they could manage Smokey the Bear. Close enough for government work. A few fundamentals and the school could leave all the posters up and have a good legal defense.
But "ha", you say, that doesn't save paying the lawyers. Here we come to the second prong. What you do is first put the Jesus poster up. Then when you are sued under the establishment clause, you take the poster down, causing you to be sued under the right to free speech. After that you can post or not post, considering the merit of the poster, as you have both sides covered by public spirited people with lots of money to pay lawyers. You interplead the parties, claiming you are just a stakeholder and don't know which claim is right. Ergo, you sit on the sidelines from then on. It is probably better to leave yourself in the "non-posted" position, as if you are in the "posted", you won't dare take it down 7 or 8 years later or the case might be moot.
Back to you Medicare recipients. When you put up the manger scene, include your reindeer accoutrements, but when you get sued, take it down and get some outfit like the Liberty Counsel to defend your right to free speech. As they say on their web site, they are committed to "restoring the culture one case at a time". They represent the kindergartener's parents in the suit. You can even order cool t-shirts (illustrated above) and books on their site. And in kindergarten size!
This just in from Dr. Davison, the blog's religion consultant. Our assumption above was correct: "Regarding Jesus and the environment, we know he is the Lord of creation, as John said about the Word made flesh, "and without Him not one thing was made, that was made." Jn 1:3!!! Also, in Genesis, man was given the responsibility and authority to "tend the land (the creation)." (Still in effect for Christians). So I believe that Jesus is the ultimate environmentalist!"
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Evidence of Intelligent Design
Tom Delay said that God told him to drop out of his re-election race. We have it second hand that the exact Words were "IF NOT NOW, WHEN?"
It turns out that there was no other reason for him to exit, as the various accusations are all blarney. This was clear in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, reported by CNN.
BLITZER: You would have still gone on that trip to Scotland and played golf at St. Andrews?
DELAY: Excuse me, but those trips were vital trips. I was working with Margaret Thatcher in building a conservative movement in England. She had asked me to come over and work with conservatives in England because they had just lost an election and they wanted my advice on how to rebuild their conservative movement. I worked very, very hard on that trip. And yes, at the end of the trip, I went and played golf. I love golf.
Kerry Disputes Jesus Christ's Approval of Several Bush Policies
Speaking yesterday to a political conference organized by his friend Al Sharpton, Senator John Kerry said that he believed "deeply in my faith" and that the Koran, the Torah, the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles had influenced a social conscience that he exercised in politics. "I will tell you, nowhere in there, nowhere, not in one page, not in one phrase uttered and reported by the Lord Jesus Christ, can you find anything that suggests that there is a virtue in cutting children from Medicaid and taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich," Mr. Kerry said.
Our religion consultant, Dr. Keith Davison, confirms that Kerry is correct, in that there is no mention in the Bible of Medicare or the Federal income tax, although Jesus did disapprove of money changers, who may have done some of that. Taking money that is. Dr. Davison also noted that Mr. Kerry "won't find many words of Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles!". He was unable to confirm regarding the Koran or the Torah.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Alleged Missing Link Found - Explanations Vary
Scientists have unearthed fossils of a fish that walked the earth, ah, well, proto-digited it, 375 million years ago. Most of this guy looks like a giant fish, 4 to 10 feet long (individuals may vary), but his forward fins and some other parts are similar to four legged land animals that were the next step. We call the later "tetrapods", Latin for four foot, which seems appropriate. So this guy (you will see why I am calling him that in a minute, and remember, this is a gender free zone) is the missing link, at the cusp of the fish-tetrapod transition. OK, his name is "Tiktaalik roseae", which was suggested by the local Indian chiefs. Tiktaalik is Nunavut for "large shallow water fish" and roseae means "redskin". The discovery was made in the far northern Canadian Arctic, a hop and a skip from the North Pole, so all the controversy in the U.S. about naming sport teams and cub scout troups like that obviously hasn't reached there yet. I guess it is not quite as bad as Guanlong wucaii. My post on that Wookey February 10 apparently didn't help.
Naturally some people are trying to make out that this is a rebuttal to the creationists, who have argued that the absence of such a fossil cripples evolution theory. Duane T. Gish of the Institute for Creation Research says "This alleged transitional fish will have to be evaluated carefully. He added that he still found evolution "questionable because paleontologists have yet to discover any transitional fossils between complex invertebrates and fish, and this destroys the whole evolutionary story."
POTUS and I believe that all the various views on the subject should be respected, and you should "teach the controversy", including stuff about this alleged fish. For instance, why would the Nunavits already have a single word that means all that? You don't think it was passed down for 350 million years, do you? Remember that the 5,000 year folks that rely on the "begats" suggest that all these alleged fossils were just planted there at the creation. At the moment I can't think of the "why?", but I remember it made sense when I heard it.
And then there are the views of the Flying Spaghetti Monster people (see post of January 8). I believe it is primarily an "alien" based theory, and that it has a lot to say for it. For one thing, it is more flexible, as there could be more than one visit. Picture the aliens seeing this large shallow water fish flopping around on its fins, stuck in the mud. The liberals probably would have liked to give him a leg up right then, but the conservative approach might prevail, evolving the design just enough to allow movement, but leaving him in the mud. The tetrapod business could wait for the next ship. Come to think of it, the FSM theory should satify everyone, as it has intelligent design and evolution built in.