Friday, February 26, 2010

For Darker Times

A must read essay today over at Hot Air by Doctor Zero.

h/t Cold Fury

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Digs, Deaf Ears, and an Occasional Swear Word

cross posted at Right Michigan

I know a guy. He is a post commander for the Michigan State Police.

During his last visit our conversation turned toward the construction of the new state police headquarters in Lansing. He was adamant that a majority of the policemen, as well as himself, were strongly opposed to the new building. He seemed to swear more often the longer we talked about it.

The new building would be too small, too expensive, was driven by politics and not need, and was embarrassing for many of the officers because they feared they might be perceived as being in support of it. I think he swore again at that point. As far as he was concerned, it was a project being ramrodded through by a governor that had no idea what the needs of the MSP were.

That was perhaps a year ago when the final disposition of the building was still slightly in doubt.

Today that disposition is no longer in question as over one hundred administrative personnel this morning began unpacking boxes in a first salvo of relocations that will land over 500 employees in the modern building by tax day.

In the past two budget years, the new building was not the only line item in the MSP budget that was uncertain. Trooper levels in the state have fluctuated with shrinking tax receipts. There have been layoffs and recalls and a good dose of controversy over them.

While the new building is now officially in use, some of the laid off troopers have still not been called back to work, a situation that irritates many taxpayers, troopers, taxpayers needing troopers, and an occasional swearing post commander.

A 70 year old building is far from modern. Yet, if the private sector abandoned every 70 year old building our cities would be much larger than they currently are with every third building standing vacant. My house was built in 1934 making it older than the soon to be abandoned police headquarters. (It was apparently built before the average carpenter knew how to use a square or a level.) I would love a new house; one with a new roof and better windows. Staying in my current house makes financial sense to me even though it has an occasional handsome repair bill.

I have discovered that there are times when our most fervent desires should not be pursued. Those of us who live on a personal budget, those that cannot issue bonds, and those that cannot simply legislate money into our wallets from one year to the next, recognize this.

Despite evidence that it is unnecessary and over the objections of many who have noted the evidence, today we have administrators moving into a gleaming new government building in downtown Lansing. This is because our resident politicians are willing to plop down millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars in the pursuit of the impractical. It sure isn't the first time and I know it won't be the last.

If I took the time to listen very closely, I'm certain I could today hear the faint sound of distant expletives being carried on the breeze. That is, if it isn't drowned out by the glee of people who today are enjoying the smell of freshly painted walls.

Dick Durban Candidly Discusses His Respect For the Will of the People

"Of course we are."

That was the candid response Dick Durban delivered to Steve Inskeep today on Morning Edition. (Well, he did get candid enough after evading the question the first time.)

The question (at approx 4:00 in): "Are you prepared to go without them, and just pass this, even though people seem to oppose this?"

The answer: "Of course we are."

Thank you Dick Durban for legitimizing the Tea Party movement in a singular moment of candidness. Politicians are not necessarily recognized as being the most forthcoming of individuals, particularly when they are being monitored by a broad spectrum of voters. Maybe with the interview being on NPR he figured he was safe in that no conservative would be listening.

Durban knows that the current health care plans, that of the senate and that of the house, are widely unpopular. He does not even bother to argue with Inskeep over the semantics of his question. He responds, simply, after only a bit of prodding, "Of course we are."

And they easily could. They have big majorities in the house and the senate, and have the political maneuverability to pass the legislation after a compromise is reached between the two versions without one Republican signature and, as the polls show, without a majority of Americans supporting major portions of either bill.

Durban is willing, and he believes his fellow democrats are also willing, to ignore the opinions of a majority of Americans and pass legislation that would place an additional 1/8th of the US economy in the hands of the government.

Anger is brewing here in America even if the anger is largely scoffed at by the likes of Durban and the regular NPR audience.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Bitter Pill

An irritation has been building inside me over the past months and years and I guess I'm finally ready to address it. This is making it to the page because, like that wee straw that eventually breaks the camel's back, I have had to suffer through reading yet another article that documents the woeful cries of government over the loss of tax revenues in an imperfect tax system.

It may make more sense to property owners in Muskegon County that they will be paying less in taxes because their property values have declined.

However, the flip side to the declining property values projected by the Muskegon County Equalization Department will mean less dollars for local governmental units that already are struggling to balance a budget and oftentimes resorting to cuts they deem painful, but necessary.

Times are tough everywhere, not only for federal, state, and local governments, but also for the people who work 'til June to pay for the operation of those efficient machines we call the federal, state, and local governments.

I know that governments are not businesses. I know too that they are incapable (and undesirous) of responding to market forces exactly like businesses do because in tough economic times many of government's services and programs become more demanded; more people need assistance with food, heat, and transportation. More people need the unemployment check and help with the kid's tuition. More people need public resources to find that next elusive job.

But what about the good times?

During the good times, when profits are climbing and payrolls are expanding and all associated tax receipts are rising as a result, governments do not respond in a manner that should reflect a predictable decrease in the need for government provided services.

Instead, governments at all levels find themselves expanding in times of prosperity because they find themselves encouraged to do so by the burgeoning public treasury. When the money tap is wide open services are expanded into new areas, facilities are updated and built, new programs are created, and staffs for all such expansions are hired and slathered with benefits. It is also during the boom times that political leaders are finally able to pull the trigger on pet projects that they could not justify when the money was tight.

But, when tax revenues cyclically contract due to a sluggish economy, most of these boom time expansions are maintained even if on a reduced level--the hallway still has to be buffed and that boiler isn't going to clean itself.

The net result of a government's desire to grow in boom times and its perceived need to grow in times of contraction sets citizens up for more lengthy periods of economic distress and for a perpetual assault on the taxpayer's pocketbooks.

Our governments have become exactly what we have allowed them to become--relentless collectives intent upon providing more and more for individuals in both good times and bad. They seek to become the do all and end all in both our personal and public lives.

While I don't like Michigan's decade old recession any more than the next guy, I am at least observant of one positive that might come from it. A strong and protracted period of economic contraction is the only proven way to actually force governments to act more responsibly. They might still resist and they might ultimately succeed in that resistance, but without a hobbling of revenue they will never be restrained.

It is a very bitter pill to swallow.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Harry Reid Eyes A Retirement of Fishing and Beating His Wife

As a potential member of the slandered collective I can either become offended or I can enjoy a good laugh at the expense of the morons that elevated this gem to high public office. I choose the latter.

“Men when they’re out of work tend to become abusive,” Reid said as he argued in favor of a cloture vote on the jobs bill. “I met with some people while I was home dealing with domestic abuse. It has gotten out of hand. Why? Men don’t have jobs. Women don’t have jobs either, but women aren’t abusive, most of the time. Men, when they’re out of work, tend to become abusive. Our domestic crisis shelters in Nevada are jammed.”
As a proud Michigander it is nice once in a while to be able to point and laugh at another state's senator. Congratulations Nevada!

h/t Politico via Darlene at Protein Wisdom

A Trend Toward Civility?

While there are always a few idiots in every crowd, I am here to congratulate the bulk of leftist ideologues for their attempts to remain civil during the hospitalization of Dick Cheney.

This is not to say that there are not a lot of Cheney haters out there, and it is not to say that every one of these haters has remained civil over Cheney's illness--certainly they all have not. (Kennedy had his own fair share of haters.) However, when news of Cheney's hospitalization became known the first thing I thought to myself was how hateful the treatment of Cheney would become.

I did some quick searching on USAToday and, of course, The Huffington Post. What was amazing to me was the number of mostly supportive comments of the former VP. Many of the comments were measured, and a few were filled with the patented vitriol for which the left is well known, but by and large, from top to bottom, the comments were on the line of a paraphrased "I don't agree with him, but I hope he returns to health."

Of course, before I have to defend myself too aggressively, I fully recognize that there are still a lot of ill-wishers out there praying for the fires of Hell to lick at Cheney's calves. I am simply noticing an improvement in the overall trend.

We have a long way to go when it comes to attaining civility in political discourse, and this applies to both sides. When a politician becomes ill or dies, the generic "I hope he burns in Hell" comment says a lot more about the speaker than it does about the ailing or dead. What it says is that there are a lot of bitter and psychologically ill people who anonymously comment on the internet. Maybe the Prozac is kicking in.

Here's to hoping the former Vice President returns to health soon, and here's also a solute to those that are making an effort to bite their tongues, however painful that might be. I noticed.

Monday, February 22, 2010

McCain Was Misled

Or so says Sen. John McCain in defense of his own support of the $700 billion TARP bill. If you will remember, McCain actually shut down his presidential campaign in order to travel back to Washington to help solve the financial crisis. That worked out swimmingly for all of us.

Under growing pressure from conservatives and "tea party" activists, Sen. John McCain of Arizona is having to defend his record of supporting the government's massive bailout of the financial system.

In response to criticism from opponents seeking to defeat him in the Aug. 24 Republican primary, the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.
The painful problem that McCain must suffer with this whole issue is that he is unable to honestly defend his prior position on the massive bailout without admitting that he is not driven by conservative economic principles. He is a student of the "too big to fail" centrist wing of the Republican Party, and an advocate of big government solutions to too many of our government created problems today.

McCain has never been a big believer in conservative fiscal principles other than a resolute disdain for earmarks. That only goes so far in a country that routinely passes behemoth spending bills that dwarf the attached earmarks. He is a taxer (or he is until his feet are held to the fire,) a spender, a controller, and a believer in the many wonderful things that government can provide.

He has been in office for nearly 24 years already and is seeking another six year term because, McCain believes, there is no one else in Arizona capable of taking over.

A politician duped after 23 years of senate experience on something as large as TARP is not likely to be any wiser during the midst of his 24th year. He is also not likely to be any wiser than an average conservative candidate wanting to step in to fill his void.

Whats the worst the new guy could do? Get duped?

h/t Michelle Malkin

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Now, That's Experience!

A person born on the same day that John Dingell became a member of the House of Representatives could be retiring from any number of professions today. They could have gone through high school, college, and now be approaching thirty five years of service.

I personally was born several years after Dingell first took office, and I began receiving AARP sign-up invitations a couple years ago.

There are few problems in America today that did not arrive while John Dingell sat in office. This is not to say that Dingell was pivotal in the creation of all of these problems, but it is certainly important to note that his presence in Congress did little to avoid them.

This morning Dingell announced that he will once again be seeking reelection. "Now is not the time to walk away" said the crusty octogenarian.

If not now, when?

I don't blame Dingell for wanting to stay vital and important in his lengthening years, and certainly he is capable of doing any number of things that could be very important to his community and his country. I think, however, that when a man serves in office as Dingell has that it is well past the time for another one to carry the torch and develop some of the experience that Dingell touts as the major reason why he continues to cling to higher office.

I have the same reservations over people like John McCain and John Conyers and have them over any politician that demands to stay in office long after they've had their fair opportunity to serve an adoring public.

John Dingell is doing no one but himself any favors.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Elton John Does Theology

"I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems."
One wonders what the reaction on the Muslim street would have been if such comments were made about Muhammad.

h/t The Blog Prof

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tiger, I Demand an Apology!

Tiger Woods is going to apologize in a staged media event tomorrow. He messed up, knew he was messing up while he was messing up, and he would like to get his life back.

His life has been in turmoil since his longstanding series of scandals became public. He has left the sport that he loves and dominates. He has lost his wife and will lose many of his millions to her. He has lost respect among his friends and family.

He has hurt a lot of people with his double-life and has disappointed countless more. Sponsors are bailing and the sport he symbolizes is suffering. I'm not certain if a public figure has ever had to withstand such public humiliation.

As far as I'm concerned, however, there is but one person who he really has to apologize to to live a complete life. That would be his wife. She is the one that lived faithfully and in turn counted on his faithfulness. Now, I'm certain he has tried to make amends for that many times already, so tomorrow's little ceremony will be primarily aimed at those who followed him as fans. I think Woods has decided that he has to get on with his life and he feels this is an important step in that process.

However, not all of those who are demanding an apology deserve one.

The countless women who voluntarily entered into his extramarital scandals have not earned, in my opinion, one iota of sympathy, nor are they owed, in my opinion, one sliver of apology. They were willing accomplices in Tiger's bedroom charades. They knew he was married and they knew that any trysts they entered into were ones that trampled on a preexisting commitments. They are no less guilty than Tiger. It would make more sense to me if these ladies were to have a press conference concurrently with Woods and apologize for being accomplices in his misdeeds.

Perhaps it was the dollar signs or maybe it was the thought of a luminous conquest that drew these bimbos to Tiger's bedside. Maybe they just like Tiger's long iron game. Whatever the reason, they walked into the fleeting relationships without hesitation and without consideration for whom was truly being betrayed.

Gloria Allred and Joslyn James see things differently.

Veronica Siwik-Daniels (stage name James) wants to be named in tomorrow's event and wants to be personally apologized to. Ms. Siwik-Daniels left the porn industry for Tiger, and here she is, but a few months later, without a career and with her pride damaged.

I have a different take. If Siwik-Daniels wants to proudly spread her legs on camera I suppose that is entirely her business. If she wants to assist in the ruining of marriages she certainly has the tools to compete. But, if she honestly thinks she deserves an apology from Woods or any sympathy from observers over her victimization in these series of events, she is in way over her head.

My guess is that she is going to try and ride this publicity as far as she can. Which is, I suppose, not a particularly unfamiliar professional maneuver for the spurned porn starlet.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ante Up

cross posted at Right Michigan

Race to the Top is an incentive program designed by the Obama administration to encourage state departments of education to make what it feels are necessary educational reforms. The incentive is cold taxpayer cash, borrowed from the Chinese, to be repaid by the grandchildren of the kids needing a decent education.

Michigan, like forty other states and the District of Columbia, rushed to push through a number of changes to make it more likely to receive the promised cash infusions. As we all know, if there is one thing that Michigan needs, it is some free federal dollars.

Many of the worst performing school districts were all for the state's application and signed on even before their next check could bounce. Many other districts refused to sign on, particularly those who noted that the checks might come with the big fat mandates that the checks might not cover.

What is known by Lansing's elite is that there is money to be had and, by gum, that money is needed!

Now, at this early point in the process, months before the winners of the education lottery will be announced, we still do not know what wonderful federal reforms will be hoisted on to the backs of states and school districts that receive the money.

We do not know, for instance, what upgrades in technology will be required. We do not know, for instance, what teaching certifications will be required by the reforms. We do not know, for instance, what additional services will be required at the school buildings that up until this point were only available at other locations. We simply don't have a clue what all these requirements will be.

However, what we do know is that the state of Michigan has already launched itself into a certain number of pre-reform reforms in the hopes it might receive some of the federal funds.

This initially appears to be a four step process. First the feds announced an exciting program that would allow the states to compete for money. Second, the states make reforms in order to make it more likely to receive the funds. Then, maybe, come the funds. Then, if and when the money comes, all the mandates that came with the money must be made.

We are now nearing step three. The announcement has been made and the states have fallen all over themselves grooming their particulars. No winners have yet been announced.

But wouldn't you know it, even before one penny from Race to the Top has been received by the money changers in Lansing, the Michigan education department is asking for an additional $500,000 in order to pay for the reforms put in place to make the state more likely to get the federal cash. In the grand scheme of things, this first $500,000 is little more than a harbinger. There will be much more to come.

From the Detroit News:

New state law requires the education department to identify the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools by Sept. 1. The roughly 170 to 200 schools on the list would be placed under the supervision of a yet-to-be-established school reform office.

Flanagan wants money to hire a reform officer and staff the department with 13 employees.

Lawmakers passed the reforms in hopes of winning money from the Obama administration's Race to the Top competition.

There's no guarantee the state will win the federal money.
Instead of adding another layer of bureaucracy to our state's education system, our leaders should be passing reforms that save the state money and improve instruction. This is possible, even without federal interference.

We only need to look as far as the job that Robert Bobb is doing in the city of Detroit to know that there are hundreds of millions of dollars just waiting to be saved in education. We should have to look no farther than the average Michigan educator's salary and benefits to discover that taxpayers in the Great Lakes State are getting nailed to the wall by monolithic and under performing unions.

Our elected leaders and our hired educators are looking to Washington for help in solving many problems that can only be solved at the local level. We want their cash and we want their insight. (In truth, I think we want the cash a bit more.)

Sadly, until those federal checks start rolling in, we're going to need a quick $500,000 fix. Don't worry, the taxpayers will ante up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Communication Problems

I only just returned home from an unplanned trip to Lansing. This was a necessary that I was made aware of last night at about 10:00 pm.

I needed to be in Lansing by 11:00 am. I was not thrilled.

As it turns out, even the late information that I received last night was incorrect.

After hurrying out of the house by 7:00 this morning and making it to Lansing on mostly snow covered roads, I was informed that the appointment was actually at 1:00 pm. and not 11:00. This also did not thrill me.

Not only did I end up leaving in the morning much earlier than I would have had to, I ended up having to stay in Lansing at least two hours longer than I had planned.

So, no blogging today. I'm chillin'.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ignorance, Sore Muscles and Soot

I am back in my home after several days of vacation. It was great to be gone for a while and to have an opportunity to reconnect with friends.

I came back sleep deprived, with sore muscles (walleyball,) and completely ignorant about what was happening in the world. I do not think I saw more than a minute's worth of television for the entire time I was gone and did nothing more than check email. I have a lot of catching up to do.

My plan was to get back into blogging as soon as I got home but I ran into another problem when I reached my house.

One of the negatives with burning wood for primary heat is that all the smoke has to go somewhere. While I was gone there was a creosote fall in my chimney and the chimney became blocked. (I clean out the chimney prior to the winter burning season but developed the block anyway.) So, when I got back inside my house on Sunday evening the house was filled with smoke.

I spent part of Sunday late night on top of my roof with burning eyes (thankfully no snow) trying to clear an opening for the furnace exhaust. I got it cleared enough so that the chimney began to draft once again, but had to finish up the job today. It is sooty and stinky job, and I am, well, sooty and stinky.

I hope to catch up on things a little better tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


I will be leaving tomorrow for a short vacation that will last the rest of this week. (For good measure, I probably won't do anything of value for a couple of days after I return.) In the meantime I will be preparing for my departure.

For the remainder of the week there will likely be no posting at all and what is posted, if anything, will be drivel about boring board games that I should have won but for the cheating of others, or drivel about exciting board games in which my superior intellect and strategy vaulted me ahead of a wanton pack of filthy cheaters.

Games we will be playing this year will include an assortment of Mayfair railroad games, Carcassonne, Power Grid, Rail Baron, Agricola, Settlers of Catan, El Grande, Puerto Rico, among others.

Try not to miss me too much.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Green Police

The Green Police ad during the Super Bowl was my favorite, not only because of its visual wit, but also because it honestly depicts a perfect land that many leftists today yearn for.

Let's hope the people of 2050 America still find it funny.

Shhhhh! They Don't Know We're Stupid!

There is loud protestation coming from the higher ranks of the Obama administration over the public way in which Republicans have criticized it for its treatment of the Christmas day bomber.

This in today's Detroit News:

An exasperated White House slammed Republicans for playing politics on national security and making ignorant allegations about the investigation into the Christmas airliner plot.

Deputy national security adviser John Brennan complained Sunday that politicians, many of them Republicans, were unfairly criticizing the administration for partisan purposes and second-guessing the case with a "500-mile screwdriver" that reaches from Washington to the scene of the attempted attack in Detroit.

"Quite frankly, I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues such as terrorism as a political football," Brennan said.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was questioned for approximately fifty minutes after he landed on the ground in Detroit. After this brief questioning he was given medical attention for his severe burns and then read his rights as an adopted American citizen, after which he stopped talking to authorities.

Strike one.

It took several days to get the young jihadist talking again, and only then after eliciting the support of his family. When Abdulmutallab began speaking again many days after the bombing attempt, the Obama administration used his reemerging candor as a way to counter criticism that Mirandizing a terrorist hurt their ability to collect intelligence. Abdulmutallab was singing like a bird.

Strike two.

Now, in a quick attempt to attain strike three, administration operatives are blaming critics of the administration for playing politics with the obvious blunders of their handling of Abdulmutallab--as if anyone watching this series of public screw ups wouldn't notice.

Our current administration is the most ill-equipped herd of bumbling nincompoops ever put in charge of protecting the people of the US. One year after taking office, Mr. Obama's crack team of interrogators, the one he promised upon being elected because he had a better way of doing things, is still not formed!

One year after taking office, this administration still did not respond to the foiled attack on Detroit in a manner that would maximize actionable intelligence. For all the FBI knew, there were another dozen bombers lined up over the next week to mimic the smoldering genitalia attack of Abdulmutallab. For all they knew, Abdulmutallab had all the connections needed to expose Yemen's al-Qaida network. For all they knew, Abdulmutallab could speak for days on the workings of African recruitment for the jihad. Yet, after fifty minutes, Obama had all he needed.

The defense of the administration typically refers back to the shoe bomber who, in December of 2001, only three months after the toppling of the World Trade Center, was read his Miranda rights even more quickly than Abdulmutallab learned of his.

This maddening defense completely looks over the timing of the attempted shoe bombing and the painstaking efforts necessary to put in place the legal means by which Abdulmutallab could have been treated differently than Reid.

Guantanamo didn't occur by accident. The Patriot Act, for all its flaws, did not occur by accident. Enhanced interrogation techniques were not pulled out of thin air for fun and games. Teams of specialized interrogators did not just pop up like toadstools after a warm rain. These things took planning, they took effort, and they took time to put into place. It was the Obama administration that in large measure either dismantled or ignored the efforts of the previous administration that would have made it possible to adequately question Abdulmutallab, and much of this dismissal was done for wholly political and not practical purposes.

The terrorists in charge are not idiots. Their bombers might not be the shiniest stones in the river, but those in charge are cunning in their murder. They are fully aware of the advantages they have against an America that puts the rights of foreign jihadi terrorists on a level plane with that of God-fearing taxpaying Americans. They monitor our every move. They have internet!

The administration needs to shut up entirely on its handling of terror suspects. It needs to operate in an atmosphere as secret as the one that encased the recent health care bill. It must assume that al-Qaida is watching its every move. It must assume that there are other crotch bombers just itching for the opportunity to kill Americans.

The way to do this is to get all the information from dedicated jihad seekers that it can. It must keep secret from our enemies the information we receive from captives. It must use the infrastructure already in place because, as Obama is finally discovering, recreating a replacement takes a long time. Finally, it must put the protecting of American lives first, rather than having the deaths of Americans an acceptable trade off against the created rights of foreign murderers.

That this even has to be said is perhaps the worst indictment against the Obama administration, politics or not.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Michigan Education Comes Full Circle

Things have come full circle in Detroit where volunteers in the struggling school district are being lauded by statist minded bureaucrats for their willingness to help teach school children how to read.

As everyone knows Detroit is nationally recognized as the worst school district in America.

Robert Bobb, who is championing an effort to help clean up Detroit's school district both fiscally and educationally, put out the call for volunteers to help children learn to read, and his call was answered by over 4,000 Detroiters.

There was a time when the presence of parents and other concerned citizens was commonplace within the schools. It happens less and less these days. Why?

There are many reasons.

One of the major hindrances to public schools has been the increasing popularity of private schools and home schools. While this does not affect overall state funding, it can have a disastrous effect on individual school districts that lose a disproportionate amount of students both financially and otherwise.

Home school and private school children, by definition, typically come from households where the parents are actively involved in their children's education. Removing these kids from the classroom effectively removes a group of parents among those most likely to become involved in the school district itself.

The flight of students from public school has many causes, but perhaps the greatest of these is the rejection of social engineering ideas favored by the state in curricula and textbooks, and anti-religious sentiments that have been forced upon schools through the court system and activists.

People who want a greater say in how their children are educated typically do not embrace a school system designed to remove parents from a position of contribution or control. The state itself has done its very best to remove local control of schools.

It has taken over the curriculum, embraced labor laws that favor desired voting blocs over school boards and parents, introduced complicated and cumbersome and expensive reporting methods, has interjected itself in disciplinary matters, discourages many attempts by local districts to operate in creative manners that fall outside the favored Lansing mantra, dictates the school calendar, and on top of it all, controls the purse strings.

School boards have become little more than committees that attempt to steer districts through complicated and often contradictory regulations. Their ability to do what is best for the children in the classroom too often must take the backseat to doing what is best for the state's woeful budget.

It appears ironic to me that the very group that the state has disenfranchised the most in its quest for the state directed education, that being the citizens of the local districts, is now the group that is being recruited by educators to save the children from the failings of that same state sponsored education.

This has to be incredibly embarrassing for entrenched education experts. What could be the effective slogan?

Please volunteer to help your
children learn how to read.
Sorry, but we suck at it.

In order to save face, the only thing left for the state to do is to appoint a commission to hire a bureaucrat, to form a department to make all the rules, to be adhered to by the supervisors of the people who have volunteered to teach the children to read. After all, how can a ragtag collection of untrained volunteers do any good without being instructed on the proper methods?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Tea For One

The consistent principles of conservativism have never been too popular among many of the more established of American politicians. One such politician had this to say several years ago about those who had the nerve to attempt to keep him in line.

"I'll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I'm getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina."
At the time of his comments, the offended politician had already served in Washington for more than thirty years--a time period that he felt had stamped him with wisdom far exceeding that possessed by those who actually pay the taxes.

Another long time politician of the era said there was simply no fat to cut in that year's budget; a budget that at the time was expected to produce a $331 billion deficit.

Of course, now only a few years later, we measure our deficits in the trillions, our debts in the tens of trillions, and our unfunded obligations at over 100 trillion. One wonders if there is still no fat to cut.

The Tea Party movement, at least that part of it that motivated me to travel several hours to chant in unison with thousands of others fed up taxpayers last April 15, was born of the frustration that no one was listening to me.

It was not just progressive minded democrats who had abandoned the tenets of fiscal sanity, but also much of the Republican Party that, as you are probably aware, was the party to which the aforementioned politicians belonged to.

When the 2008 presidential election came along, the Republican Party chose as its candidate a lukewarm centrist. It wasn't until Sarah Palin graced the ticket that many people (including myself) even had the stomach to vote for the Republican ticket. I had no horse in the race.

The first national Tea Party convention is taking place as we speak, and I cannot help but fear for the movement itself as establishment politicians try to attach themselves to its fury. This is a movement that has to transcend political parties for the sake of its survival. It cannot judge its candidate by the letter behind the name, and it cannot ever settle for a candidate today because that same candidate embraced a conservative policy three terms ago.

To be a candidate endorsed by the Tea Party has to mean nothing more than you can count on the movement supporting you until the second you stray from your principles. One nanosecond after you betray fiscal sanity your ass is out in the street. No exceptions.

Some years ago, republican members of Congress signed what was called a Contract With America. For a few years republicans adhered to its principles. Times changed though, and by the time that George W. Bush was elected president, republicans had joined democrats in spending other peoples money with a glee usually reserved for a preschool birthday party. It didn't help that Mr. Bush misplaced his veto pen through the first several years of his administration.

As the old saying goes...fool me once and shame on you. Fool me twice and shame on me. I've been shamed over and over again by placing my trust in parties rather than individuals, and by placing my trust in individuals who took my trust for granted.

That will happen no more.

Tread lightly.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Let's Hope There is no Opening on ESPN

Power Line reports the circulating scuttlebutt that MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann might be taking its last few gasps of air. The malevolent ass moved on to MSNBC a number of years ago but can still be seen on occasion displaying his caustic buffoonery as a sport's analyst.

His short lived "The worst person in the NFL" segment during NBC football coverage was, to my mind, the most horrific serial football analysis in the history of the sport. Putting it on the air once was sin enough--repeating the mistake week after week was sheer torture. I missed the second half of several football games because Olbermann's aggressive eyebrows forced me to change the channel, a change I had neither the strength nor stomach to undo.

Olbermann was a mainstay on ESPN even after the network became much too successful to justify employing his swollen and hate filled head cavity. He was not funny. He was without class. He had difficulty reading. His eyebrows were threatening.

Let us hope the soon to be unemployed Olbermann will catch a gig on Alternative Radio or one of those Dish Network channels in the 7000s. If he makes his way back to ESPN I will avoid whatever sport he bespoils.

How To Become One of the Best School Districts in Michigan

cross posted at Right Michigan

The goal of becoming recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan is not as difficult to achieve as you might think.

Sure, that recognition can be realized the old fashioned way by working hard in the classroom and honestly getting the standardized test scores up, but a much easier way can be found.

How can you do this? reports:

The banner ad across the Lincoln school district's website proudly proclaims it has been recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan.

The criteria for Lincoln and eight other districts being selected?

A $25,000 check.

Nine southeast Michigan school districts paid $25,000 each to a Detroit-area public relations firm to be "named," a top school district. That firm, in turn, bought airtime on a Detroit-area television station to broadcast a feature on the state's best schools. A website - - also features the nine schools.

Mentioned nowhere on the videos or the website is the fact that the districts paid for the honor.
Heck, for $30,000 I would have sold them a "Best School in the Universe" certificate.

Many Michigan school districts are in a world of financial hurt. While there are a few rich districts here and there that have escaped some of the worst contractions, poorer districts are closing classrooms, laying off teachers, and cutting programs.

Despite this, nine southeast Michigan districts had enough extra money in their coffers to spend $25,000 on the purchase of accolades.

I'm in favor of school district competition. However, the results of this competition must be honest and easily discerned by parents. It cannot be manipulated into a marketing scam that fakes out parents in pursuit of what is best for their children.

When standardized testing first began to be used as a way to monitor all schools' progress, many districts nationwide got caught up in schemes to cheat the tests. Tests were opened before hand. Students were coached. Results were doctored.

The end result was that otherwise failing schools were allowed to circumvent the system and stay just as miserable at educating children as they ever were, and parents of these children were unable to make informed decisions in pursuing what was best for their children.

I am certain that these nine school districts are not legally guilty of committing fraud, but I do believe they are just as guilty of misleading parents as were those that cheated on standardized tests.

So, while the Lincoln School District is able to burn through twenty five grand on demonstrably deceptive advertising, Fairview Area Schools is contemplating taking an axe to its music program in order to save less than that amount.

Ah, public schools in Michigan. No wonder Jennifer was bragging so loudly last night.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Eric Holder's Skewed Vision

It is a dangerous political game that Eric Holder plays with the American public.

Even if we overlook the fact that Umar Abdulmutallab should never have been allowed to board what he intended to be a flight to paradise with no luggage, no winter coat, no return trip, his name on a terrorist watch list, and his father having reported him to US authorities as a potential purveyor of the jihad, we still must face the fact that US authorities were tipped off mid-flight as to the potential danger posed by one of its passengers. We must still accept the fact that despite this knowledge, no one on board the flight was instructed as to the danger of the passenger and therefore no one was keeping an eye on him.

We must also face the fact that the Nigerian passenger was not an American citizen and was at war with this country. He had trained for the jihad amongst other terrorists who had taken similar vows to kill American civilians in a holy war against the infidels.

Finally, we must admit the possibility that Abdulmutallab, his genitalia still smoking from the botched bombing, was perhaps a key to information on an army of like trained terrorists who are planning to board other flights to America. He may have been aware of other Mideastern terrorist training camps, recruitment networks, tactics, and other vital information that could save American lives.

It has become evident that after nearly a year in office the Obama administration is no better prepared to handle a terrorist attack than was President Bush but eight months after his inaugural. Yet the Obama administration came to office in the middle of a war while Bush entered 2001 with Clinton-gutted intelligence apparatus.

The Christmas day attack has brought to light many things.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was badly burned as the result of his attack and was questioned for a very short time before he was whisked away for medical attention. By the time his medical condition had improved enough to speak again with authorities, he was granted US constitutional rights and was only willing to talk to his team of attorneys compensated for by the good charity of the American taxpayer.

Now Attorney General Eric Holder is saying that he made the call to put countless American lives in danger so that Abdulmutallab could clam up. Eric Holder is pledged to protect American citizens, and not international terrorists intent upon killing those whom he is supposed to protect.

Surely a man in the position of Holder should have understood at the time of the bombing that Abdulmutallab could provide a treasure trove of information that could spare many American lives.

Holder has now bravely stepped forward and taken responsibility for the unfathomable decision to treat Abdulmutallab like a breaking and entering suspect, but announced that he did so only after other relevant government agencies failed to object.

This is about the most specious argument I've ever heard uttered by a high level government official. Who is in control of all of these relevant departments if not the Obama administration? We cannot plausibly blame Bush for this too, can we?

The administration is now engaged in a bitter battle of words with accusers that say it was irresponsible and dangerous to allow Abdulmutallab to clam up while the legal apparatus already exists that would allow him to be placed under military control as a terrorist. (Truthfully, we can blame that one on Bush.)

Holder argues that many terrorists have been granted the rights of US citizens and have been tried in civilian court. So what? Did all of these other terrorists have the type of time sensitive information that Abdulmutallab might have possessed? Did all of these other terrorists get their day in court after the aforementioned evil Bush constructed the legal framework making the alternative possible? Would processing these convicted terrorists in a military setting have allowed those fighting our quaint little war to have stopped future attacks? Does incarceration and a military tribunal at Guantanamo cost as much as building new prisons and securing federal courthouses during trial on American soil?

It is being argued by those in league with Holder that true freedom from tyranny, true liberty, makes it necessary for a few guilty persons to go free in order to make certain that no innocent is wrongly punished. I agree with that argument when we are talking about American citizens in a civilian setting. I don't want influence peddling politicians silencing dissent. I don't want wayward bureaucrats snuffing out the rights of those who disagree with them. I don't want Eric Holder to be given the power to indiscriminately toss those whom he disagrees with into a reeducation camp like the indomitable Bill Ayers would.

Yet, I don't want a Nigerian jihadist at war with America granted the right to a lawyer and the right to remain silent simply because he had the good judgment to wait until he had entered US airspace before he set his crotch afire. There is a huge difference.

Enlisting in a terrorist war to kill American civilians should not earn Islamic jihadists human rights that even the Geneva Conventions would deny them. This is not protecting American citizens from government tyranny, it is subjecting them to it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Irony: Canadian Premier Seeks Surgery South of the Border

No reason has been given by the office of Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams as to why the 60 year old politician would be having his heart surgery in the United States rather than in that haven of socialized medicine that is Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams is set to undergo heart surgery this week in the United States.

CBC News confirmed Monday that Williams, 60, left the province earlier in the day and will have surgery later in the week.

The premier's office provided few details, beyond confirming that he would have heart surgery and saying that it was not necessarily a routine procedure.
I'm certain there are dozens of possible justifications for the premier to flee his native land in seeking non-routine medical care in the unfair American system. None of them speak well of the Canadian system nor of Mr. Williams' confidence in it.

If the American system becomes more like the Canadian system, perhaps political operatives in Canada will begin to fly to India for their surgeries instead of having to head due south of the St. Lawrence.

Less influential Canadians than Danny Williams can head to the back of the line.

h/t newrouter at Protein Wisdom in the comments

Monday, February 01, 2010

Perspective on Obama's Projected Deficit

Barack Obama has proposed a budget for 2010 that includes a deficit of more than $1.6 trillion dollars.

A trillion is a lot of whatever you are measuring. In fact, it is almost impossible to grasp without a bit of perspective.

So, here it is...

If we were to pay back that $1,600,000,000,000.00 debt at $1,000,000 per day it would take us 4,383 years to pay off just the principal.

At least it is manageable.

Guess Which Michigan Senator...

Less than one week after President Obama denounced lobbyist influence in Washington during his State of the Union Address, which Michigan senator do you suppose was meeting at the winter retreat of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee?

For your information, this is an annual meeting where senators schmooze with powerful industry lobbyists who then make significant contributions to the DSCC for the opportunity to make political prostitutes out of the attending senators.

It's not as difficult a question as you might think.

Unfirable Teacher in New York

"This is not an ideal system, but given the realities of cumbersome state laws and the union contract, we need to balance our obligation to safeguard children with our legal obligation of fairness to teachers."
Of course missing in this discussion is any seeming obligation to provide fairness to taxpayers who are forced to overpay abusive non-teaching teachers so that they can be protectively housed far away from the children they were originally hired to teach.

It is beyond time for voters to take back the public school system from misguided unions and entrenched bureaucrats who willfully negotiate the taxpayers into unwinnable situations.

h/t Overlawyered