Highway 431 Blog

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Josh Marshall's Take On Jeff Sessions ::

I happened to be channel surfing today and came across C-Span covering Sessions' Senate floor rant about something or other. As usual I listened for about 20 seconds before I could take no more Alabama embarrassment and I changed the channel. A short time later I came across this on Talking Point's Memo:

Hell Is ...

Listening to Sen. Jeff Sessions talk about fiscal policy. Reactionary economic policies aggressively parroted by someone who lacks the candle power to even understand it.


Help, indeed! My feeling is that Josh is being far too kind to Sessions!

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Kittens ::

Missy had 4 little baby kittens last night so I will start taking orders right away! I learned my lesson about putting off the spaying so that will be first on the agenda after the kittens are weaned. I'll try to get some photographs this weekend.

Oops! ::

Lost my header! I'm working on another web site where the header image was stored and I deleted it by mistake. Should have it fixed soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Huntsville Times ::

manages to mightily embarrass itself with this morning's headline. I'm amazed they still have it up on their web site!

David King submitted his resignation as Marshall Space Flight Center's director. Christopher Scolese is NASA's acting administrator 'til such time as the president appoints a new administrator. At the very least someone should have been subjected to a well deserved ass chewing for writing this headline!

Oh yeah, and Shelby Spires wrote the article, not the headline!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let's See ::

Friday I got my first reply from Parker Griffith to an e-mail. I chided Griffith on his stance on the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and he finally replied although it took far longer than it should have. I'll cut him some slack on this since he's new to the office, but I hope that replies in the future come much quicker.

I finally was able to cut my grass yesterday and today and it felt good to be able to spend time outside. I spent some time at the Wal-Mart and Lowe's garden centers picking up seeds and plants so I have something of a start with some herbs, tomatoes, as well as some flowering plants for the hanging baskets.

Unfortunately it's back to work tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day! ::

I almost forgot to pick up my corned beef and a head of cabbage. I'll cook them up later today!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Atrios References The PACT Program ::

I followed a couple of links on Eschaton this morning and one of them led to a Left In Alabama post about the PACT fiasco, but the other link was to a local blog titled "Havealittletalk". Havealittletalk seems to be devoted to what is happening with the PACT fund, but I found the Atrios link to be very interesting in that it takes The Huntsville Times and, more specifically, David Prather to task for shoddy writing. Here are a couple of excerpts:

In his article “The PACT Meltdown” (Huntsville Times 3-5-09), David Prather compares the predicament of those of us who invested in the PACT to homebuyers who failed to read the “fine print” on their mortgages and then blame “the mortgage banker who didn’t tell you that your income didn’t make buying that house on a variable interest rate a really sound business decision on your part.” He concludes, “Some folks don’t have much sympathy for those who have overextended themselves in home-buying. Perhaps they will feel the same about those who invested in the tuition savings plans in hopes of making the cost of sending their children to college manageable.”
His analogy and editorializing is both inaccurate and insulting.


Unlike Mr. Prather, Stan Diel of The Birmingham News did his homework, reporting in “State fears investors will pull money out of PACT” (3-7-09) that “Many participants in the program were under the impression that their contracts guaranteed tuition would be paid in full if they made their payments. And contracts from the program’s inception in 1990 through 1994 explicitly promise that would be the case.” He adds, “The word ‘guarantee’ was removed for later contracts.”

My daughter’s MasterPACT for enrollment period September 1-September 30, 1996 states in para 3.01: “The PACT Program provides payment of undergraduate Instate Tuition and Mandatory Fees on behalf of the Qualified Beneficiary…” (emphasis added). I’ve read the “fine print” of this 1996 MasterPact, which is a contract, and while “guarantees” has been replaced by “provides,” the only “Disclaimers” [para 10.06] pertain to no “guarantee” that the beneficiary “(a) will be admitted to a Postsecondary Institution…(d) will be graduated from a Postsecondary Institution.” There is no disclaimer regarding poor money management by the State.

Let me say upfront that I have exchanged a couple of testy e-mails with the thin-skinned David Prather about what I felt was his shilling for the city of Huntsville government over true reporting on a couple of stories which never got the ink they deserved. Prather took great umbrage at my pointing out, in detail, the major points he and a couple of other reporters had missed or, more pointedly, ignored in their writing.

We look forward to more fireworks regarding Alabama's PACT program, but I surely would not look to the Huntsville Times for factual reporting.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Discovery On The Launch Pad ::

Tonight's launch has been scrubbed and Discovery will not fly before Sunday. Here is a nice photo from NASA photographer Bill Ingalls:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More Madness ::

From cnn.com:

At least 10 people were killed Tuesday in a shooting spree that spanned two small southern Alabama towns, state officials confirmed. The gunman and the wife and child of a sheriff's deputy were among those killed.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Alabama Pact Program ::

PACT=Prepaid Affordable College Tuition

I've been kinda following this story for the past few days and I was more than mildly surprised to see the story on the front page of today's Huntsville Times given The Times predeliction for hiding bad city, county and state news, but there it was. Seems as though the state of Alabama invested these funds and the investments have tanked along with our personal IRA and 401K plans.

Nancy Jones of Gurley held on to her glossy brochure from 1990 when the state first sold contracts for the PACT Trust Fund, which stands for Prepaid Affordable College Tuition. Her contract and the marketing brochure make repeated use of a word that the state no longer acknowledges: "guarantee."

On Page 1 in the first paragraph, the state offers "a contract that will guarantee up to four years of future undergraduate tuition" at any state school.

"We had $4,000 in our savings account. I remember it well. We wiped out our savings," said Jones. "This was guaranteed. It says nothing about your investment being at risk in my paperwork."

Jones said she paid $3,900 for four years of college tuition for her infant son, who today is halfway through studies at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The really bad news?

Even at a peak of nearly $900 million in September 2007, according to actuarial tables there wasn't quite enough money to cover all the future tuition payments - at least not without selling more contracts or benefiting from favorable investments. Now, according to the treasurer's office, the fund has enough to cover half of what it owes.

Looks to me like the only winners to come out of this state sponsored Ponzi scheme will be the lawyers.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Catblogging ::

Not much going on right now so I thought I'd let you get a glimpse of Missy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Huntsville Photograph ::

I haven't put up a N. Alabama photograph lately so here is a panorama I shot a couple of weekends ago in Huntsville's Big Spring Park. This is kind of a warm-up to a spring photograph with foliage and blooms.

Bread And Milk ::

Just hearing the word "snow" triggered a buying spree for bread and milk at the local groceries yesterday, but, statistically, more beer is sold than bread and milk. I can understand that!