Saturday, June 26, 2010

Best wishes, Meghan Danahey (and other weather-related stuff)

Friday, June 25 (that's yesterday, as of this writing) was Meghan Danahey's last day at KVUE.  As Dale Roe and Jim McNabb reported on Monday, Ms. Danahey is moving to South Carolina to be closer to her fiancĂ©, for which I certainly can't blame her.  She'll be replaced on weekday mornings by Albert Ramon, who will in turn be replaced by former KVUE weekday morning meteorologist Ilona McCauley, thus reminding me of a comment I once made about revolving doors for weather teams.

KVUE, bucking the trend among stations nationwide of scrubbing their sites of any mention of anyone who leaves pretty much the moment they're out the door, was nice enough to create a nice little page saying goodbye to Ms. Danahey.  Featured on the page is her last minute or so on the air, complete with a cake that apparently the station got for her.  That clip follows:

While Ms. Danahey was known for delivering the forecast every weekday morning, she apparently also found time to (according to her public Facebook page) practice her golf and travel across the world.  She also dabbled in Latin dance, as seen below.  :)

Now, while I heard quite a bit about Ms. Danahey's departure from KVUE, I heard little to nothing about Mary Lee's departure from KXAN last month.  Ms. Lee apparently traded doing weather on the weekends in Austin for doing weather on the weekends in Houston, specifically, at KPRC

Best wishes to both Ms. Danahey and Ms. Lee as they move on to bigger and better things.

(Aside:  KXAN, in a move that may confuse the occasional viewer, replaced the departed Mary Lee with Rhonda Lee on weekend mornings.)

Slightly unrelated:  I still occasionally get hits on my blog from people wondering whatever happened to former KEYE meteorologist Megan Campbell (last mentioned on my blog about a year ago here).  In the interim, she apparently went to station WVLT in Knoxville, where she, in very short time, became chief meteorologist there.  And, very quickly after that, she apparently decided she didn't enjoy doing the long-distance-relationship thing with her husband, and so, according to this Knoxville source, she is now back in Texas, where her husband, a pilot, is based (I guess...the source wasn't totally clear, but why else would she move here?).  So, perhaps we might see her return to Austin television at some point?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

About Sarah Palin's legal defense fund developments

Just across the Twitterverse this afternoon, I saw that Sarah Palin has settled with the Alaska Personnel Board with regard to the Alaska Defense Fund (her legal defense fund) and will return all donations.  (Story, which at this moment is still kinda sketchy, here.)

I know there will be some who will gleefully jump on this story to say something on the order of "See?  Sarah Palin broke the law!!!!!!!!1!!11!"  I am not writing this to them.  These are people who rejoice at every bad thing that happens to Sarah Palin, simply because she disagrees with them ideologically, and because she is very successful at getting her message out.  And these people who simply rejoice at the problems of another are very, very small.

And, as it turns out, Sarah Palin's Facebook page has already responded to this (via her former spokesperson, Meghan Stapleton) with a little more information than what is currently in the article linked above.  While the full response may be found here, following are salient points:

According to the Summary of Findings in the decision released today by the Alaska Personnel Board, nothing illegal and nothing unethical occurred because not a penny has been distributed. Governor Palin did nothing wrong. And in fact, everyone is in agreement that Governor Palin acted in good faith. 

Oh, by the way, the summary may be found via Legal Insurrection.  It doesn't seem to jibe with KTUU's article, which comes right out and says, "An investigator for the Alaska Personnel Board has determined that a legal defense fund set up for Sarah Palin is illegal."  Perhaps you meant to say "would have been illegal had any money been distributed", KTUU?

Ms. Stapleton reminds readers of what I, and many others, have said before:

Last year, those who willfully and excitedly violated or abused Alaska law showed they would do it again and again to either bankrupt Governor Palin or paralyze her success for Alaska. Governor Palin had a choice: plead guilty to things she didn’t do so that she could focus on the state and save money for the family – or defend her good name and reputation. She chose to fight back. In the end, Governor Palin and her attorney, Thomas Van Flein, successfully defended against well over two dozen complaints, lawsuits, and allegations. Time and time again during and after the 2008 Presidential election cycle, independent investigators proved that Governor Palin’s actions were sound, her judgment was proper, and her intentions were honest. In fact, the Personnel Board, the ethics board for the Governor of the state, never even had to take up a case as each was dismissed before making it to the next level. 

So they created a legal defense fund, so that the Palins would not be bankrupted.  (This was before Sarah Palin resigned as governor to save the state of Alaska a lot of time and money that would have been wasted on all these frivolous complaints.)  The legality of this fund has been discussed for quite some time, including by me here.  But, of course, an ethics complaint was filed against the legal defense fund the instant it was created, and thus the fund has sat frozen and unused since then, until now.

The main issue appears to be that the word "official" was used on the fund's webpage.  And Ms. Stapleton speaks to that point:

There was a point where it appeared that people around the country wanted to start legal defense funds for Governor Palin. The support and good will the people of this country have shown to the Palins is inspiring. But a concern was raised whether all these other potential funds would comply with various laws, including donation limits, limits against contributions from lobbyists or contributions from foreign nationals. So we used the word “official” in the website to distinguish the Alaska Fund Trust from ones we were not sure would be compliant. In our view, that was a solid and common sense reason to use the word “official,” but the investigator believes that it made it appear that the website was sponsored by the State of Alaska, and thus would be a use of Governor Palin’s ”official” office to raise money. We are not terribly persuaded that really would be the case or that any member of the public could be confused, but we respect the investigator’s evaluation of this point and it is not worth fighting about. Again, Governor Palin’s prime directive was simple – if this fund could be set up lawfully, she would support it. If not, it would not have her support. 

And so, to simplify things, the Alaska Defense Fund's donations will be returned, and a new, "real" (as opposed to "official") legal defense fund for Sarah Palin has been set up here.

And, once again, Sarah Palin, unlike the ankle-biters filing charges against her in Alaska, has acted completely ethically and above board.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Unfairly Forgotten Song #8: Shakedown by Bob Seger

You wouldn't think a popular song from the soundtrack of a movie such as Beverly Hills Cop II would be listed as a "forgotten song".  You wouldn't think that a song that hit number one on Billboard's Hot 100 would be listed as such.  (Or, at least, I wouldn't think so.)  And yet, when the word "shakedown" hit the public discourse as the result of Congressman Joe Barton*, at least one person (that I knew of) was not familiar at all with this song, so I figured it deserved to be dug out.

"Shakedown" was actually written for Glenn Frey, but Bob Seger stepped in when Mr. Frey lost his voice just before the recording session.  This was Mr. Seger's only number one single (it also hit number one on the Album Rock Tracks chart, per the song's Wikipedia entry**) and his next-to-last top 40 hit overall.  And, as is usual for songs I list as "forgotten songs", I don't think I have ever heard a station in Austin play this song in many years of living here.  Actually, for that matter, I haven't heard this song on the radio anywhere since it hit the charts back in 1987.

*Whether what the government has been doing to companies like BP is a shakedown is not a topic of discussion in this only inspired the choice of this song.

**Note: most information in "forgotten songs" entries comes from the always-reliable Wikipedia; as such, its veracity may be questionable.

Obama, Hayward take leisure time...guess which gets reported?

When it comes to the gulf oil disaster, Barack Obama and Tony Hayward have basically been two sides of the same coin.  Neither appears to be helping the situation very much, at least for the residents of the gulf coast states affected.  Just ask Bobby Jindal.

Well, what did I see shouted at me as the top AP headline when I checked my mail this morning?  (Yes, I use a web-based mail a lot...that way spammers leave my home address alone.)  The top headline, complete with a picture of Tony Hayward looking embarrassed at the recent congressional hearings, read "As oil spews in Gulf, BP chief at UK yacht race".  Oh, here's a fun passage from this totally impartial article:*

In a statement, BP described Hayward's day off as "a rare moment of private time" and said that "no matter where he is, he is always in touch with what is happening within BP" and can direct recovery operations if required.

That is likely to be a hard sell in Gulf states struggling to deal with the up to 120 million gallons of oil that have escaped from a blown-out undersea well.

So, apparently Mr. Hayward took a bit of leisure time and attended a sporting event (I'm not going to debate here whether yachting is a sport).  

The coverage Mr. Hayward's excursion has received, of course, is as opposed to the coverage of President Obama, who, it has been said, has been fully engaged in this mess since Day One.  And how did he choose to engage himself in it last night (that would be Friday, June 17, 2010, or Day 60, for those keeping score at home)?  That's right:  he attended a sporting event!

After hunkering down for several weeks to deal with the oil spill, President Obama finally made it out of the house for some fun – and showed up at the Nationals game on Friday night.

(It should be noted that the preceding quote came from the Washington Post's Nationals blog linked by Liberty Scout through the link above.  The blog goes on to point out that coming soon on President Obama's agenda is to congratulate the Los Angeles Lakers at the White House.  Busy times, indeed.)

So, Tony Hayward gets pilloried for attending a yacht race, and Barack Obama gets his usual fawning coverage for attending a baseball game.  That doesn't quite seem fair, does it?  I mean, if either of them were effective at all in solving this huge problem in the gulf, I suppose the disparity in coverage would be justified.  But they haven't been.

And, while this is apparently Mr. Hayward's first leisure time in quite a while, that can't quite be said for certain other people:

Draw your own conclusions as to what I think of the media coverage of this mess.

*Sarcasm detectors for reading articles on my blog may be picked up in your grocer's freezer, if you don't already have one.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who has the better plan for the oil spill: Obama or Palin?

Those who haven't been distracted by constantly blasting vuvuzelas at the World Cup might have noticed that President Obama gave a speech tonight about the BP oil disaster (on the ever-so-timely Day 57 of the crisis).  The speech started okay (see the transcript here), I suppose, but as it went on, two themes seemed to be clear in the president's message:  1)  you, the American people, need more government; and 2) you, the American people, are going to pay through the nose.  (I suppose there could be a third theme of "BP is evil" in there, too.)

The "more government" idea was hit hard and often, starting with tomorrow's planned meeting with BP's chairman (who does have a name, according to BP's Wikipedia entry but not according to President Obama's speech...perhaps it's easier to demonize people without names, or something) to "inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate" pretty much everyone involved, and that this fund would be "administered by an independent, third party."  Now, did I miss the provision in Article II of the Constitution allowing him to do this, particularly to an international (BP, for the uninformed, originally stood for "British Petroleum") corporation?  But then again, the president has named "czars" for everything else under the sun, so why should we think he would have anything other than a bureaucracy to handle this situation?

(Aside:  there are a lot of czars, aren't there?  You could say there were enough to fill up a clown car.  And then, if there were someone to oversee that, he could be the Clown Car Czar.  But I digress.)

And, of course, President Obama could not let this occasion go by without pressing for a comprehensive energy bill (which, from the name, sounds innocuous enough, but there's nothing about the current Congress that makes me trust that it will be in practice).

All in all, the push for more government, when obviously the one we have has not been doing its job terribly well to begin with, does not appeal to me (which should come as a surprise to exactly none of my regular readers).  But what really irks me about this speech in particular is this portion:

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And some believe we can't afford those costs right now. I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

Yeah, you bet there'll be costs.  What was the estimate I saw previously that I'm not going to look up right now because I want to finish this before midnight...utility bills under one proposed cap-and-trade bill would go up, on average, something like 57%.  That's what we need during a recession, isn't it?  But President Obama speaks to that issue, in a roundabout way:

This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again.

Just as soon as utility rates go up and the Bush tax cuts all expire.  (The tax cuts presently expire in just over six months...Merry Christmas, y'all!)

Really, the whole speech, which was criticized by even such people as Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, deserves a good solid fisking.  From someone else.

Because the reaction I want to talk about briefly is that of Sarah Palin, who has had quite a bit of experience in dealing with the oil industry (whereas President Obama can possibly see an Amoco station from his house).  As might be expected, she wasn't thrilled with tonight's speech, and thanks to the good folks at PalinTV, here is her appearance on The O'Reilly Factor just moments after the speech had ended:

The Right Scoop has lots of good things to say about Governor Palin's segment that is too good not to steal, er, borrow, er, quote:

Palin told O’Reilly that we can’t just get rid of oil, but we need to develop all three legs of the stool – conventional, renewable, and conservation. She then chided Obama for not understanding the linkage between our energy and national security.

Like it or not--and obviously the president and many, many others don't--oil and other fossil fuels are not going anywhere in the near future.  To state a goal of moving predominantly toward renewable resources is well and good, but regardless of the amount of money we throw at it (and it's gonna be a lot, if some people get their way), we cannot turn the basis of our society on a dime away from oil and coal, and the pie-in-the-sky mentality I saw tonight is not what we need from our president.  The practical, pragmatic approach from Mrs. Palin is what I would very much prefer to see.