Blogs > City Editor's Blog

By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

School's out for winter

I wrote in late January that Kingston school district officials might have made their most foolish decision ever in declaring a "snow day" on a virtually snowless morning during Regents week.

Well, today has to be a close second.

Snow is falling, but the temperature is in the mid-30s and nothing is sticking to the roads. And the current forecast - despite a "winter storm watch" posted by the National Weather Service - is for nothing more harmful than a mix of rain and snow for the rest of the day with the temperature remaining above the freezing mark.

So, in other words, all that's required to close the Kingston schools during the winter is any precipitation falling from the sky. Never mind the temperature. Never mind that the roads are just wet. If it's winter and anything is dropping from the clouds, we can't possibly take the risk of sending our children - and the district's pampered teachers and administrators - to school.

And P.S. to parents in the district: The long-range forecast for the Kingston area calls for rain and snow Wednesday, snow on Thursday and lingering snow showers on Friday. In other words, start planning now for how your kids will be spending those three days, because they surely won't be sitting in their classrooms.


Monday, February 22, 2010

N-H-L! N-H-L!

In the 14 hours or so since the U.S. hockey team beat Canada at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I've lost count of how many times I've heard sports commentators refer to the victory as "stunning," an "upset" and comparable to the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey game in which the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in Lake Placid.

Are these people for real?!

The Miracle on Ice game was a once-in-a-lifetime win by 20 American college kids over a Soviet powerhouse squad that was, for all intents and purposes, a group of seasoned professionals at a time when the Olympics allowed only amateur competitors.

Last night's game was a bunch of NHL all-stars from the United States playing against a bunch of NHL all-stars from Canada. How, exactly, does one of those two teams beating the other - in what was little more than a midseason exhibition game - qualify as "stunning" or an "upset"?

The Miracle on Ice game is considered by many to have been the greatest sports moment of the 20th century. The U.S.-Canada game last night might not even have been the greatest sports moment of the past weekend.

The Miracle on Ice game continues to be talked about after 30 years (it was 30 years ago today, as a matter of fact), and probably will be for generations to come. Last night's U.S.-Canada game probably won't be talked about beyond next Sunday.

Anyone trying to convince people that last night's game was even remotely close in significance to the Miracle on Ice game is either brainless or thinks the rest of us are.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The poll truth

The mantra on FoxNews and right-wing radio talk shows is that President Barack Obama's poll numbers are "plunging" or "in the tank" or "dropping like a rock."

Bold statements. And outright lies.

Obama received 52.9 percent of the popular vote in the 2008 election. His opponent, Republican John McCain, drew 45.7 percent.

The latest Gallup poll (released yesterday, Feb. 14) shows Obama with a 53 percent approval rating. And the percentage of respondents that disapproves of Obama's job performance is 40 - nearly 6 points less than McCain's tally in the election.

In other words, the people who supported Obama in November 2008 still support him today. And not everyone who voted for McCain is dissatisfied with Obama.

In a nation as divided as ours, that's about the best any president can hope for.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

A series of snow jobs

* Dec. 19-20: National Weather Service predicts 6-12 inches of snow in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Actual accumulation: Zilch.
* Feb. 6: National Weather Service predicts a foot of snow in Manhattan. Actual accumulation: Zip, nadda.
* Feb. 10: National Weather Service again predicts 6-12 inches of snow in the Mid-Hudson Valley: Actual accumulation: 2 to 3 inches.

Anyone else see a trend here?

The only scarier trend is that people keep believing these forecasts.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Gotta hand it to her

Half an hour after criticizing President Obama for using TelePrompTers when he speaks in public - never mind that all presidents have used the electronic word-scrolling device since its invention - Sarah Palin is caught reading crib notes off her left hand during a Q&A session at Saturday's Tea Party convention.


Let's go to the videotape:

In case you couldn't make out the words on her hand, they were "energy," "tax cuts" (with the word "tax" appearing under the crossed-out word "budget) and "lift American spirits." Seriously? She couldn't remember those three things without writing them down? Unbelievable. But then again, considering who we're talking about, I guess it's very believable.

A close-up shot of Palin's hand appears here:


Saturday, February 6, 2010

As Sarah sees it

Sarah Palin, in her speech to the Tea Party convention tonight, criticized the Obama administration for giving civilian suspect rights to would-be airplane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab rather than treating him as a terror suspect. Funny, though, she never mentioned that would-be airplane bomber Richard Reid was given the exact same rights by the George W. Bush administration just three months after the 9/11 attacks.

Palin also criticized the Obama team for authoritizing last year's bank bailouts. Funny, though, she didn't mention the Bush-authorized bailout in 2008 of insurance giant AIG, which the company responded to by spending a chunk of the federal aid on a ritzy retreat for its executives.

She criticized the Obama-backed federal stimulus program for being laden with spending that benefited pet projects in Democrats' congressional districts. Funny, though, she made no mention of Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama single-handledly holding up Senate confirmation of 70 Obama appointees until he gets federal funding for several pet projects in his home state.

She lauded newly elected Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., during a passage in her speech about the Tea Party's conservative values. Funny, though, she didn't mention that Brown, on his Web site, says abortion is a "decision (that) should ultimately be made by a woman in consultation with her doctor." Hardly a conservative value.

And, of course, she talked about how average Americans are struggling amid the weak economy, having trouble finding or keeping jobs and meeting family financial obligations. Funny, though, she made no mention of the Tea Party convention's $549-per-person attendance fee or the $100,000 she was being paid to deliver the convention's keynote address.

Same old Sarah.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More silliness from Sarah

So, Sarah Palin wants President Obama to fire his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, for saying that attacks ads against the Democratic health care plan are "f--king retarded."

First of all, I doubt Obama is taking advice about high-level staffing from Sarah Palin.

More importantly, though, if every political figure in Washington is going to be fired for using bad words and saying offensive things, then our nation's capital will be an awfullly empty place.

And P.S. to Palin: Stop trying to score political points off your baby son having Down syndrome - the basis for your faux anger over Emanuel using the word "retarded" - especially when you know full well that the comment had nothing do to with people who have developmental disabilities. It makes you sound like an ever bigger idiot than you are.