Blog Archives

Rick Santorum Invokes a Racial Slur on Barack Obama in Abortion Discussion

Whooeee! This was on that Christian Network CNS News (they’ve come up before in this blog, and not in any complimentary terms):

Of course it’s not the first time Santorum has slurred the President. Last year on Fox News he told Greta van S.:

I think the Democrats are actually worried he may go to Indonesia and bow to more Muslims. That’s sort of the concern that every time he seems to go to these other countries, he comes back or starts some sort of controversy that hits his popularity. I’m serious.

Word is out that Santorum is considering a Presidential run. That would be a fascinating campaign.

Watching the Senate stage an intelligence dump as they go through Tax Cut votes…

I don’t know if  any of this stuff is really believable. I watched a gloomy couple of hours of debate this morning when the Republicans held off any changes in the Obama-McConnell Tax Cut extension, keeping Democratic changes from coming into play. Now I’m watching as all the amendments proposed by Republicans and Bernie Sanders get voted down (they need a 2/3 majority under these rules), which, I think, it was previously agreed upon.

I guess they will then put the 61 votes necessary behind the Bill as written (and complain about how they HAD to do it… especially from the Democratic side)… and then it will go to the House and go through the same kind of brouhaha with the same results.

I wish I felt that the main motivation here wasn’t “vote for it now so we can go home for Christmas” or some other pathetic excuse. But it seems pretty clear that this will be a day cheered on by the rich, who will make out like bandits for the next couple of years. Sanders’ amendment, which is currently being voted (down, I’m sure… there’s no way it can get the 67 Aye votes necessary) which would remove the tax cuts from the top 2%. As I watch them muddle around on the Senate floor I am more and more aware that this is a crowd of rich people… many who became rich by becoming Senators. Why would they vote against themselves?

And then there’s my Senator, Joe Manchin, and Joe “the sleeze” Lieberman who are voting NO with the Republicans on taxing the rich.

This is going to be even more fun in January when there are more Republicans in the Senate and a Republican Majority in the House. We might as well give our country to the Chinese now and get it over with.

Busy Morning…

Off to Ranson this morning to finish the registration of my new old Subaru in West Virginia at Motor vehicles, then to Charles Town to do Early Voting and grocery shopping… then back home to take care of the dogs and clean up the kitchen.

Early Voting is something Elly and I have done in the last few elections and, since my mind is made up on who I am voting for, it is a convenience which I find very helpful. I’ll get my votes in for Manchin, Graf, Doyle, Dunleavy and get a YES down on the school funding issue. Then I won’t have to worry about it on November 2nd.

The Unintelligent Majority Attacks…

Speculating on the intelligence of the American public, I am beginning to think that we have a majority of extremely shallow thinkers, otherwise why would the polls be moving so far to the right? Starting with Reagan who began the process of deregulating all the structures that preserved our society economically and helped it grow, passing through eight years of W that finished decimating the economy and left us in a trap that only more expenses could help get us out of, we should have recognized that people fell for the same stuff time after time.

Well, it looks like a huge chunk of our population is ready to bite into what is a particularly rotten apple again. If, in the couple of weeks we have remaining, the polls stay the way they are today we are likely to lose the House of Representatives if not the Senate (and in West Virginia a technical Florida resident named Raese who is ready to ditch Social Security and undermine education is now picked to beat Governor Manchin for our Senate seat.) There’s still a chance that things can change, but I don’t believe there are enough intelligent people to do it.


Quote of the Day – From a Republican…

Moxie Festival Parade - Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

“Frankly we haven’t done our jobs well here in Washington and that disturbs me. There’s all this partisanship and polization, and ultimately it yields two outcomes: either scorched-earth victory for one side or political stagnation.”

– Senator Olympia Snowe (R – ME)

Does that mean you are upset with your own, uncooperative Party?

Austan Goolsbee Explains The Tax Cut Fight…

Introducing White House Whiteboard

In this first edition, Austan Goolsbee, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House, tackles the tax cut fight and what it means that Congressional Republicans are “holding middle class tax cuts hostage” as the President has said:

That makes it pretty clear, doesn’t it. While the candidates are off now running for their seats, please remember to bring this up to the Republicans who are saying that Obama’s Administration is doing nothing to fix our economy.

Ramona is asking such important questions this morning…

I love reading Ramona’s pieces. This one began:

Fox News and the C of C thank you for voting Republican. But don’t call us, we’ll call you.
So, all you “Mad as Hell” people who idolize Fox “News” and their partners in crime, the Koch Brothers, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Republican Party, let’s hear what you’ve learned from that bunch you’ve been following so religiously. What’s the plan? What’s marvels are in store for you when they take out the government and make it obsolete?”

…and then went on:

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Wait a minute–you haven’t asked?  Okay, then.  Obviously you haven’t been thinking about it, but I have.  I’ve made up a list of questions for you to ask as soon as you’ve put all those constitution-loving patriots back in the cat-bird seat:
How soon will all the jobs be back?
What’s the forecast for a booming housing market?
Can we stop paying taxes now?
When will all wars end?
Can we get the the gays and liberals and non-Christians and brown-skinned people out of our sight ASAP?
Now can we force all kids to pray in school?
How soon before the poor aren’t among us?
Do we have to take our guns to town?
When you outlaw abortions are you going to expect me to take care of those little brats?
When DC is a ghost town will the rents go down?Why is Obamacare bad again?

and last but not least (because this one is very, very, very important):

Do you like me?  Do you really, really like me?
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Thanks, Ramona.

If You Want To Know Why The Government Doesn’t Work…

…ask Jim DeMint.
This article in this morning’s HuffPo really got to me, especially after yesterday’s Cloture failure on Offshore Business practices.Here’s the start of the article… go in and read the rest:

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Jim DeMint
Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) raised eyebrows on Monday when his office emailed GOP aides to let them know that he would block all legislation that he and his staff have not personally cleared until the November elections.

Now, however, a Democratic senator is coming forward to relay that DeMint’s threat of grinding the consideration of bills to a halt is nothing new. It has been a formal policy of his since Obama was elected president.

“It is my understanding Jim DeMint has had a standing hold on everything throughout this two year process,” Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) told the Huffington Post on Tuesday. “When I have had amendments on a couple of occasions, I have been told: ‘Absolutely, we in the Republican leadership are fine but you are going to have to clear it with Jim DeMint because he has a standing hold on everything.’ So I’m not sure this is a real change from what he has been doing.”
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Mayor Bloomberg calls Tea Party “A Fad”

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It might be more an embarrassment than a fad.

Mr. Bloomberg described the Tea Party movement as a fad, comparing it to the short-lived burst of support for Ross Perot in 1992. The mayor suggested that the fury it had unleashed was not a foundation for leadership.

“Look, people are angry,” he said. “Their anger is understandable. Washington isn’t working. Government seems to be paralyzed and unable to solve all of our problems.”

“Anger, however, is not a government strategy,” he said. “It’s not a way to govern.”

Mr. Bloomberg said he wanted to see more of the cooperation once displayed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch and Edward M. Kennedy.

He said that he would not have voted for either of them (“one because he’s too liberal for me, one because he’s too conservative for me”), but added, “These two guys who went into the Senate together and were the closest of personal friends for 40 years, they were everything that democracy says a senator should be.”

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I hope the Mayor is right. And I hope we can elect folks to the Senate who DO work together despite Party affiliations.

Things are just getting worse in government every day.

Getting ready for more Medical visits…

Good Morning. I’m organizing my records of medications and other appointments before having my first appointment this morning with Dr. Khan, a Neurologist, over in Hagerstown. This was another one of the doctors set up by my GP, Dr. Kugler, to try to get to the bottom of my momentary lapses of spoken language control (which has gone on for several years and, although I’ve brought it up with Kugler visit after visit, the increase in occurrences has finally made him think this is something to look into.)

Friday I go to Washington County Hospital for a T.E.E. test after I do the morning radio show with John Case. Elly is driving me over, since I have to take a sedative and won’t be able to drive after it. After the test I have some days off from medical stuff, then I have, in October, blood tests and doctors’ appointments and a CAT scan. Then maybe they’ll find out what’s wrong and we can do something about it.

In the meantime, we’re only a little over a week away from Thurber Carnival opening at Full Circle Theater and I’ve got to get the cues and light levels finalized up in the booth.

Onward and upward!



Just got home from seeing the Neurologist and he’s scheduled me for another two tests over the next week or two. That’s JUST what I needed.

Labor Day

Today is the first Labor Day of my, more or less, forced retirement. My wife has no teaching responsibilities today and is sleeping late… I’m planning a Vegan delight to bring to the town Labor Day Picnic down in Morgan’s Grove Park.

According to the morning news, Obama is going to announce a $50 Billion job stimulation program (which Congress won’t get around to until they come back from vacation) in a Labor Day speech today. It’s probably too late for him to get the economy in any kind of shape before the November elections, and John Boehner is, as they say, measuring the curtains for his House Speaker‘s office.

A lot of folks who are working, who have jobs, are working even today… there’s not a lot of money to be made if you’ve managed to get a part-time store job, but take the day off. Government offices will be closed, however, and there won’t be any mail. My father always worked on Holidays… his Connecticut drugstore made its buck with family (often me) in the employee slots. I remember being in the store on Labor Day (and Easter, and Christmas, and 4th of July… you get the picture?) for the people who were picking up their tanning oil, cigarettes and soda… and a few prescriptions of course.

Somehow, Labor Day doesn’t have the kind of force as a holiday that nit used to. School starts for kids a week or two before Labor Day now, so it isn’t really the hard-edged end of summer. The Baseball season is going to run into October, so it isn’t ending here, either.

And when you are retired, every day is Labor Day. So?

(btw, labor images are from Bill ‘s Cast O’Characters, $29.95 at UTF Type Foundry.)

Labor Day as Memorial Holiday; Middle Class R.I.P.

So says Rob Kall, executive editor, publisher and site architect of, in an article today (Go to to read the rest):
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David Letterman joked, on his show the other day,

Folks have big plans for Labor Day? Labor Day, of course, is the one day a year we honor our workforce. Do we still have a workforce?

We go out and we buy a lot of products made in China. That’s how we celebrate Labor Day.

Arianna Huffington’s newest book, Third World America, chronicles, in painful detail how corporations and the congress, and the White House and their appointees have been systematically undermining, literally wiping out the middle class.
We’d hoped that a strong Democratic congress and Obama in the White House would stanch the bleeding.
It didn’t happen. The Whitehouse rescued big finance and the auto industry but did nothing for millions of homeowners facing foreclosure. Congress pretended to pass financial reform while simultaneously gutting real reform…
The result is, the middle class is worse off now than it was in 2008.
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Do we deserve an Article V Convention? Congress doesn’t think so…

Article V of the U.S. Constitution: The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight [1808] shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

So what happens when the Congress ignores (and has since 1965) applications by ALL 50 STATES to call an Article V Convention? Take a look at requests for a Balanced Budget Amendment, which would keep the government from going further and further into debt on Military expenditures, let’s say. 171 Balanced Budget/General-Call-for-an-Article-V-Convention applications were submitted by 39 different states (rescissions excluded). Has an Article V Convention occurred?


Friends Of An Article V Convention are pushing the cause at their web site. This is what you find at

What is Happening to Our Country?

Are you aware that We The People are being denied our constitutional right to an Article V Convention to propose amendments, despite a whopping 400+ (or more) Article V applications from the state legislatures of ALL 50 states? Only 34 (i.e. two thirds) are required.

FOAVC is a non-partisan association of American citizens from every state comprised of a broad range of occupations, Convention of 1787 (click  here to enlarge)ethnicities, religious affiliations and political persuasions.  Our common bond and mission is a deep commitment to preserving the values and principles embodied in our founding documents – the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America – upon which this nation was founded. Article V of the United States Constitution provides that Congress, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments“.  The Founding Fathers of our nation recognized the importance of providing this means by which the citizens of our country could initiate amendments to change and/or clarify the Constitution; the fundamental document which they intended to be not only the blueprint for our federal system but also the supreme Law of the Land.

If you’d like to see the 400+ applications for the Constitutionally Required Article V Convention? Go HERE.

And once a Convention is called, there can be other amendments brought in (I think this is the real fear of our legislators… we might get lots of our government problems changed.)

So what do you think? As Joel S. Hirschhorn of FOAVC has stated:

American society is saddled with distractive consumerism, a culture of dishonesty, and rampant corporate corruption of government.  Despite what false patriots tell us, we now have a delusional democracy, not one that citizens can trust to serve their interests.  We clearly need a Second American Revolution.

Some Predictions for the Fall…

1. Joe Manchin will be the next West Virginia Senator. He ran the field in the Saturday Democratic Primary and I see no reason why he won’t take the Senate in the same measure that he took the Governorship.

2. Karzai and U.S. are heading to a major fallout. This week Karzai fired the major corruption attorney which we placed in the Afghanistan government because he was getting too close. How long can this last?

3. Christmas Sales will fall flat this year… jobs won’t pick up enough. If only America would realize how many unemployed sixty-plus-year-olds are willing to apply their experience at much lower pay than they had been getting, we could really get out of a lot of this.

Picked this up from Op Ed News…

As a blogger, I find this particularly displeasing (and a violation of Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech).

This is the opening couple of paragraphs, but the rest is worth reading (and responding to):

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Boycott Philly? Why Philadelphia’s Licensing and Taxing of Blogs is Creeping Fascism
By Darren Wolfe (about the author)

The recent decision by the City of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania to require a Business Privilege License ($50 a year or lifetime cost of $300) of blogs and that the blogs be taxed on any profits has generated a well deserved outcry from free marketers across the country.

Many have invoked Chief Justice John Marshall’s famous words, “The power to tax involves the power to destroy.” They are right, this will be the end of independent blogging in Philadelphia and around the world when this spreads across countries.

The tax is actually the least of the threats to blogging the city is creating. The major threat is
the licensing. Once the precedent is established that blogs can be licensed the government’s control of the blogosphere will grow in small increments until it can shut us all down by simply requiring and then denying said license.
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Read the rest HERE.

Another Democrat Faces Ethics Charges…

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A second House Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, could face an ethics trial this fall, further complicating the election outlook for the party as it battles to retain its majority.
People familiar with the investigation, who were not authorized to be quoted about charges before they are made public, say the allegations could be announced next week. The House ethics committee declined Friday to make any public statement on the matter.
Waters, 71, has been under investigation for a possible conflict of interest involving a bank that was seeking federal aid. Her husband owned stock in the bank and had served on its board.
Waters came under scrutiny after former Treasury Department officials said she helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at Boston-based OneUnited Bank without mentioning her husband’s financial ties to the institution.
Her husband, Sidney Williams, held at least $250,000 in the bank’s stock and previously had served on its board.
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Waters’ spokesman has said Williams was no longer on the board when the meeting was arranged. She defended her role in assisting minority-owned banks in the midst of the nation’s financial meltdown and dismissed suggestions she used her influence to steer government aid to the bank.

“I am confident that as the investigation moves forward the panel will discover that there are no facts to support allegations that I have acted improperly,” Waters said in a prior statement.

The Secret of America is that we learn NOTHING!

This article clipped from You can go in and get the quotes and links.
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BREAKING: New Gulf Coast Drilling Approved While BP Oil Spill Continues To Grow

BREAKING: New Gulf Coast Drilling Approved While BP Oil Spill Continues To Grow

Crude oil from the former Deepwater Horizon drilling platform has been gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for over a month, and many hoped that this disaster would help to prevent a resurgence of offshore drilling.

Although President Obama issued a moratorium on offshore drilling until the government and BP could get a handle on the current crisis, the Mineral Management Service (MMS) has found a loophole allowing some projects to continue.

Just days after the moratorium on wells in deep water (like the Deepwater Horizon) was extended, the president quietly lifted a brief ban on drilling in shallow water just last week.

Despite the launch of a full criminal and civil investigation by the Department of Justice, the MMS decided today to grant the permit, allowing Bandon Oil and Gas to start drilling just 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana.
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So… do you suppose anyone told Bobby Jindal about it?

Sunday morning and I am getting more depressed…

OK. As we look at the alarming crisis that BP and the oil industry has brought us to, as we evaluate the amount of military spending we are pouring into the middle east for no evident return (and as we consistently apologize for killing innocent civilians with airborne missiles), as we observe politicians and lobbyists letting payoffs and focused fundraising deny the needs of voters in favor of the needs of corporations, as we see the Supreme Court gradually eliminate generations of civil rights achievements, we are getting more and more convinced that making a change in America… indeed in the whole world… is getting less and less possible.


Our air is polluted, as are our seas and lakes. Species we would like to preserve are becoming extinct, while species of new (to our shores) and dangerous insects are coming out in the changed environment to sting us with new diseases appearing in their wake. The climate… oh, the climate… it is getting warmer and, in some areas drier, and less beneficial to our agriculture. Our food sources might just disappear by the end of the century.

Yet it would seem that the public is more concerned with the price of SUV’s (which, of course, 95% of which are not used as off-road vehicles or for any sports/utility purpose whatever, and which pollute and use more fossil fuel than smaller, more efficient vehicles) than they are with the price that food, water and air will cost us in the very near future. Much of this is due to the prominence of advertising as the functioning basis of ALL of our media (and if you think public broadcasting avoids this, just start keeping track of all the donor companies that get noted with hardly subtle ads at the beginnings and end of programs … and guess how much influence these companies have on what is broadcast or reported.)

We listen to liars on television these days… like the corporate officer of BP telling us that this kind of crisis has never happened before less than a week after 60 Minutes publicly demonstrated that these crises happen all the time. We don’t want accountability debated… we need something done… something changed in how government and business work for people as opposed to profits.

So we will go our way into more organic gardening, and less automobile travel, and more working in our own local community, and less falling into trusting silence as those who are “leading” us become millionaires as we become the new poor.

If nothing changes, we most likely have ourselves to blame.

A (hee hee) Quote for the Day

“It is really quite sobering what has happened. From 100% of our economy was private prior to September of 2008, but as of Tuesday, the federal government has now taken ownership or control of 51% of the private economy.”

– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Let’s see… prior to September 2008 Social Security, the US Military, all the employees of the Government, NASA, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were all private entities?

Yeah, right.

How does this woman get elected?

When you think that most of the civilized world has universal healthcare…

…and we in the good ole USA don’t, encountering stories like the one about artist Tom Fowler that Cary Tennis tells in Salon makes us regret the corrupt political/commercial alliances that have given us our current situation.

A clip:

Tom had died. He had gotten a toothache. He had gotten a toothache but had not gone to the dentist because he didn’t have health insurance to pay for the dentist. He lived with it. Then he got sick but thought he was OK. Then he collapsed and the emergency medical people came and they told him he should go right into the hospital. But after reviving he said he’d be OK and he went home and made himself some soup. He lasted a couple of more days like that. Then he got really, really sick and they put him in the hospital but by that point the infection that had begun in a tooth had spread massively throughout his body and despite the doctors’ best efforts Tom could not be saved.

He died because he didn’t go to the dentist and didn’t go to the doctor because he was trying to be an artist and didn’t have health insurance and didn’t think it would kill him.

The stupidity of our system is so obvious, yet we are unable to move in the direction that would cure our ills and save our society. We are herded into our corrals by Big Pharma and Monster Insurance Companies and other Corporate Entities which are, by the grace of the Supreme Court, participating citizens in our government… and by politicians whose major goals are 1.) get reelected, 2.) bow to your big donors, and 3.) pretend that you will fix things…soon. Decades go by and the attempts by the few naive and well intentioned amateurs to bring us up to the Rest Of The World Standard in Health Care that appear from time to time get chewed up and spit out and (as Republicans say) we’d better slow down… we’re moving too fast. What’s the Rush?

It has given us our season of distrust. We elected a man on the assumption that things would change. We gave a Congress the majority it needed to make that change. We heard promises and patter designed to keep us believing that something would change. But, in the long run, all we have been is screwed.

And my wife asks me if I didn’t wish we lived in Canada.

Cartoon(s) of the Week … hard choice to make!

There were too many good ones this week and I had too much time on my hands reviewing them, So here are my favorite four:

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Yes, it has been a great Christmas for lobbyists… and we once thought that with Obama they’d get a lump of coal in their stocking!

– and –

Tony Auth in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Isn’t Scrooge supposed to learn that he has been wrong?

= and –

Tom Toles in the Washington Post:

And it looks like the strategy is well on its way…

– and –

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Belief is a strange thing…

Remember the CETA program in the 70s?

I do… it’s more or less how I met my wife, when I was hiring people to work at the Jamaica Arts Center in Jamaica, NY, and Elly’s job was placing CETA workers…

Well, according to this article in the HuffPo, Democrats are contemplating bringing CETA back to help solve the unemployment problem. Here’s the first few paragraphs, but go to Huffington Post because there is much more:

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As desperate Democratic lawmakers cast about for ways to create jobs from Capitol Hill, a 1970s-era jobs program is getting a fresh look.

Known as CETA — the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act — the program provided direct government funding to hire temporary workers. At its peak in 1978, it had created 725,000 public service jobs and shaved roughly one point off the unemployment figure.

A one-point drop in the unemployment rate — not to mention the ancillary benefit of hundreds of thousands of people having money to spend on other goods and services — would give politicians something concrete to point to before the mid-term elections.

“That’s certainly one of the options being discussed, the CETA program back in the 70s,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told HuffPost in a recent interview, when asked if leadership was considering direct government hiring as a partial answer to the deepening unemployment.

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Got a buck on ya?

I was tripping around the web and found this on The Political Carnival:

ATLANTA, Oct. 14 (UPI) — Georgia will stop posting signs along highway construction projects funded by economic stimulus funds, because the signs cost too much money, officials said.

The signs were first considered a nice indication that stimulus funds were putting Georgians to work but they became a target for ridicule and criticism once it was determined that they cost $1,200 apiece, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

– and –

New York dropped the sign idea this summer when some contractors quoted prices above $4,000 for some of the larger signs.

hmmmmm. This sounds like an awful lot for a sign, although it says nothing about size, nor what material is used, nor any number of things that could account for such prices for… signs!?!

Now, I guess there is also a contractor markup to figure here. I think, however, I agree with Paddy at The Political Carnival:

“This is just stupid. I can go to any local Fast Signs and have one of those magnetic ones whipped up for under $100 and just keep reusing it. How the hell does a sign end up costing this kind of money?”

I couldn’t really leave it here, though. So, I got curious and went to look at The Manual of Traffic Signs, which has a web presence. In it I found a listing on the price of traffic signs, which was five years old… but the most recent pricing I could find:

Sign panels:
• Regulatory/Warning/Marker: $15 to 18 / sq.ft.
• Large Guide Signs: $20 to 25 / sq.ft.
• Electronic Variable Message Sign: $50,000 to $150,000 each
Sign Posts:
• U-Channel: $125 to $200 each
• Square Tube (Telespar): $10 to $15 per foot
• Large Steel Breakaway Posts: $15 to $30 per foot
• Cantilever Sign: $15,000 to $20,000 each
• Sign Bridge: $30,000 to $60,000 each
• Square Tube: $150 – $250 each
• Breakaway Post: $250 to $750 each
• Cantilever / Bridge: $6,000 – $7,000 each

Interesting… these signs are pretty expensive as listed, and there is no information with Georgia’s complaint as quoted as to the size of these signs and how they are suspended or mounted. But even a 4′ x 8′ steel sign should only cost $500.00 dollars or less (unless the costs have gone up 400% or so since 2003)… and even if it were suspended from a bridge, say, by a U-channel, the whole of a sign would cost $680.00.

So why do we get quotes at $1200 to $4000 for a small sign when a huge Highway sign goes for under $700.00? Is the contractor markup so high? And we aren’t using a state agency to put them up… because?

Time to get a handle on costs of these things and, if you’ll excuse me, I don’t think going to private consultants is paying off on this or anything.

FTC about to impose Endorsement Guides on Bloggers…

Here is a warning for bloggers like me who often recommend products to buy or places to go (and I note that I don’t get reimbursed for any of this, mores the pity.) The FTC will start a regulation on December 1st (why is it that regulations on Health Insurers or similar institutions take a couple of years before they can be implemented?) which updates their 1980 regulation. Here’s their Press Release:

For Release: 10/05/2009

FTC Publishes Final Guides Governing Endorsements, Testimonials

Changes Affect Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, Celebrity Endorsements

The Federal Trade Commission today announced that it has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the FTC Act.

The notice incorporates several changes to the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The Guides were last updated in 1980.

Under the revised Guides, advertisements that feature a consumer and convey his or her experience with a product or service as typical when that is not the case will be required to clearly disclose the results that consumers can generally expect. In contrast to the 1980 version of the Guides – which allowed advertisers to describe unusual results in a testimonial as long as they included a disclaimer such as “results not typical” – the revised Guides no longer contain this safe harbor.

The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

Celebrity endorsers also are addressed in the revised Guides. While the 1980 Guides did not explicitly state that endorsers as well as advertisers could be liable under the FTC Act for statements they make in an endorsement, the revised Guides reflect Commission case law and clearly state that both advertisers and endorsers may be liable for false or unsubstantiated claims made in an endorsement – or for failure to disclose material connections between the advertiser and endorsers. The revised Guides also make it clear that celebrities have a duty to disclose their relationships with advertisers when making endorsements outside the context of traditional ads, such as on talk shows or in social media.

The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.

The Commission vote approving issuance of the Federal Register notice detailing the changes was 4-0. The notice will be published in the Federal Register shortly, and is available now on the FTC’s Web site as a link to this press release. Copies also are available from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,700 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Betsy Lordan
Office of Public Affairs


Richard Cleland

Bureau of Consumer Protection


(FTC File No. P034520)
(endorsement testimonial guide.wpd)

I’m not sure what changes this will make at Under The LobsterScope or other blogs, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Here’s one for Theatre folks like me… one you probably haven’t seen…

Got this in my morning e-mail from Thomas Cott (who calls his posts “You’ve Cott Mail”… funny, no?). It was from a theatre web blog (which I am adding to my Blogroll) called 99 Seats:
Commentary: Why sports win out over theater — and what we should do about it

$ 943.3 million. $188 million. $1.1 billion. Those three numbers are the 2008 total revenues for the 43 shows on Broadway, the 2008 [ticket] revenue for the New York Yankees and the amount of money New York City contributed to the building of the new Yankee Stadium. If you want to argue that art is unnecessary, then you better be ready to argue that sports are even less necessary. And, yes, many, many people argued that it was a poor use of public funds to build a stadium. But that didn’t stop it. Sports win out because, despite the number of people who don’t like it, who can’t afford to go to the stadium, despite the overpaid players and despicable owners, it’s still perceived as a thing of joy and beauty for the whole city. Theatre can’t shake its rep of being just for the moneyed elites. A sports team is part of the fabric of a city, the spirit of a town. Theatre is a luxury. It’s controversial, a political hot potato, and nothing anyone wants to get caught dead supporting, unless it’s something that’s going to turn a quick profit, or get them in bed with a comely chorine. This is at the root of all of our problems in the theatre. We don’t rate enough for real government support. That’s why I support less non-profit and more for-profit ventures. More theatres eating what they kill, so to speak. More independence from donors and less need for government money.

This is something I’ve been saying for years, and it goes way beyond City governments and expenses. It goes back to the basics of our educational system where schools pour both money and requirements into athletics and put the arts on the First To Cut list. Did your High School or College require you to participate in Theatre? Did they require you to participate in a Sport? You tell me.

I’ve always felt that I’m in a distinct minority… I could care less about the Sunday football game on Television, but I’ll go out of my way for the smallest Community Theatre production. A trip to New York without going to the Theatre is a great waste of time. You see where I’m gong with this.

So if you think the arts are unnecessary, think again. PLEASE!