Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Heard It Here First (Or Thereabouts)

Back in July I wrote:

In the aftermath of the Oslo atrocities the usual braying from conservative bashers was to be expected. After all, the chance to score political points in this country usually trumps everything else, up to and including common human decency. Still if one bothered to look at the "manifesto" published online by Anders Breivik (or even a selection of "highlights") one could get a feel for the perpetrator of these heinous acts of barbarism.

My take, for the outset, was that this man was completely delusional....

For myself, it was hard to read [Breivik's manifesto] and not think we are dealing with a situation such as was depicted in the film A Beautiful Mind about the real life struggles of mathematician John Nash. As depicted in the film Dr. Nash in the grips of a terrible mental disorder begins to believe he is part of a secret code breaking operation bent upon unmasking dangerous agents communicating by code in newspapers and magazines. In order to flesh out his "world" Nash's diseased mind invents enemies and friends to populate it.

It seemed pretty obvious reading Breivik's ravings about "Knight Templars" and the like, that we were dealing with something similar here. Breivik seems to actually believe he went to London to be part of a meeting of a new Templar order hellbent on reviving anti-muslim crusades throughout Europe. It also is becoming increasingly clear it was all in his fevered imagination.

Today comes word that my suspicion was correct:

Psychiatrists assessing self-confessed Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik have concluded that he is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

They believe he was in a psychotic state both during and after the twin attacks on 22 July that led to the deaths of 77 people and injured 151.

Their report must still be reviewed by a panel of forensic psychiatrists.

Breivik will still be tried in April but it seems likely he will be placed in psychiatric care rather than prison.

Breivik admits carrying out the attacks but has pleaded not guilty to charges, arguing that that the attacks were atrocious but necessary for his campaign to defend Europe against a Muslim invasion.

The two psychiatrists who interviewed him on 13 occasions concluded that he lived in his "own delusional universe where all his thoughts and acts are guided by his delusions", prosecutors told reporters.

Seemingly in only people to actually believe in Breivik's delusions were Breivik himself and the lefty side of the blogosphere.

That fact is its own editorial comment.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Damn! I Always Miss My Blogoversary...

Maybe its because early November is so... early Novemberish, I forgot to make a note of the anniversary of The Iconic Midwest back on the eighth. This one man dog and pony show has been annoying the good citizens of the world for seven years now.

What do you get for seven years worth of whatever the hell it is I'm doing here? Mostly disapproving stares.

I'll take it.

Here is to seven more good years! (Yes, that is a threat.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Irony, It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

From the "People Who Do Not Listen To Themselves" File:

Jonathan Gruber, a key intellectual architect of President Obama's overhaul of the American health care system, is a little frustrated.

"I'm frustrated that the future of the American health care system rests in the hands of one or two of these unelected people...

Amazingly, he's not talking about himself.

I myself find it particularly disturbing that all of our fates are being determined by a unelected "intellectual architect" who seemingly knows nothing about American government:

He credited Mitt Romney for not totally disavowing the Massachusetts bill during his presidential campaign, but said Romney's attempt to distinguish between Obama's bill and his own is disingenuous.

"The problem is there is no way to say that," Gruber said. "Because they're the same fucking bill. He just can't have his cake and eat it too. Basically, you know, it's the same bill. He can try to draw distinctions and stuff, but he's just lying. The only big difference is he didn't have to pay for his. Because the federal government paid for it. Where at the federal level, we have to pay for it, so we have to raise taxes."

Here is a clue for the great intellectual: they are different fucking Constitutions. What is allowable for Massachusetts under their state Constitution may not be allowable for the Federal government under the U.S. Constitution. Really, its not that hard a concept to grasp.

But, I guess trivial matters like rule of law are a matter of indifference when you are an "intellectual architect."

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Why Is Paterno Being Singled Out?

All I'm saying on this matter is this: Joe Paterno, by all published accounts, did not witness any wrongdoing by anyone. Merely being told of the allegation by the actual witness does not shift the burden away from the witness and onto Paterno.

That being the case I have to wonder if the outrage (if such it is) is being directed at Paterno at the behest of his enemies. And make no mistake, Paterno has enemies, alumni and boosters who have been campaigning behind the scenes for his dismissal for more than a decade.

Just saying.


I see the lynch mob has been successful. Oh, happy day. After all everyone knows hounding an innocent 84 year old man out his job makes the pain of child rape go away.

Gravy Train Time

From the "It's crap like this that make me want to tear my hair out" file:
Loophole lets union officials claim big teacher pensions

Last fall, Ed Geppert, then president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, co-wrote a scathing public essay that alleged some politicians and pundits in Illinois were "waging a relentless war against public employees over state pensions."

The "claim that the state pension shortfall was caused by overly generous pension benefits paid to state employees and teachers is provably false," stated the essay.

What Geppert didn't mention during that debate is that he personally was already getting an annual pension of roughly $185,000 — far more than most working teachers make in salary — through that same struggling system.

Geppert taught in the Metro East for seven low-paid years in the 1970s before leaving teaching and rising through the union ranks for three decades. Thanks to a little-noticed loophole in the system, he was allowed to apply the regular state teachers' pension formula to his much higher union salary.

The formula is based on an average of the retiree's highest four recent years of salary. For many teachers, that average may be around $50,000. For Geppert, it was more than $200,000 because of his union salary, which was six figures through most of his IFT tenure. That average was helped along by a salary spike of about 15 percent, to $260,000, just before he formally retired in 2004.

There was nothing in the law to prevent him from continuing to collect that pension after he returned to the union as its president three years later.

When asked last week about the arrangement, Geppert's combative tone from the essay had become more pragmatic. "I followed the law," he said. Using the system as it was available to him "was only the prudent thing to do."

Prudent, eh? Geppert stopped working as a public employee in the pension system in 1977, back when his average pay was only $12,100. Now he is drawing $186,000 a year from that same pension fund. That is patently absurd. If Geppert continues to draw his pension for another ten years we will have taken out over $3 million dollars out of the fund.

And Geppert is not alone:

Among former Metro East teachers who went on to boost their public pensions through union positions, the Post-Dispatch review of records found, was Terry Turley, a former East St. Louis schoolteacher. Records show Turley left teaching in 1995 to work for the IFT, making a union salary of between $90,000 and $157,000, then getting a final-year spike to $184,000 in 2005. Turley's resulting pension annuity through the Teachers' Retirement System is about $129,900.

That list also includes ex-teachers such as Andrea Baird, who taught in Carrollton for 13 years in the 1970s and 1980s, topping out at a salary of $17,300. After joining the staff of the IFT, her salary roughly doubled, then continued to climb, to $165,000 by 2003. She retired a year later, with a $32,000 final-year raise to $197,000 — setting up a $140,700-a-year pension annuity through the teachers' pension system.

Neither Turley nor Baird could be reached for comment despite messages left last week and on Tuesday.

While some pension recipients spent most of their careers as union officials, others actually did teach for most their careers, then were able to substantially boost their pensions with just a few high-paid years with a union.

That was the way it worked for Martha Bowman, who spent 33 years teaching in Marion, climbing to a salary of about $62,000, according to records. She then spent her last six years before retirement with the Illinois Education Association, the state's second major teachers union. There, her salary rose to $143,500 in five years — $24,000 of that coming in a final-year boost — setting up a retirement annuity of about $100,000 annually, more than twice what it would have been for her teaching service alone.

It's crazy. It also, it must be noted, is not a loophole. "Loophole" suggest an unintentional ambiguity in a law or regulation. This was very clearly intentional, and a legalized fleecing of Illinois taxpayers and the rank and file teachers the unions are supposed to be supporting. It amazes me liberals can bitch and moan about CEO pay for Fortune 500 companies while at the same time signing off on the pillaging of millions, if not over a billion dollars nationwide, from the pension funds of rank and file teachers.

And make no mistake, these unions officials want this "system" to carry on forever, because, they say, they work hard not like those lazy-layabout-all-summer teachers:

Bowman said she doesn't agree with the move in Springfield now to prevent union salaries from being applied to the teacher pension system. "Most teachers work nine months out of the year. When you're a union leader, you're on call 24/7. You don't have time off. There are a lot of weekends and evenings."

Geppert, the former IFT president, also is opposed to the legislation.

"I think it's a sad thing to occur," he said. He predicted it will be difficult to lure high-quality people into union service without allowing them access to teacher pensions.

That's right. What could possibly induce a teacher making $35,000 a year from taking a job making over $100,000 a year? Hmmm.... I wonder.

I'm sorry, but there is no rational reason why highly paid union officials should be in the teachers pension funds. By all means, set up your own pension fund for union officials, and even apply for a teacher's pension if you are properly vested in it. However, that pension must be based solely upon your work and salary as a teacher.

That's how it would work in the real world.