My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


What the Republicans SHOULD Do With the "Summit" 

Step up, en masse, to the bank of microphones, and address the press thus:

"Whereas the President promised to bring people together and to listen to ideas from both sides of the political aisle, and

:Whereas the President proposed just two days ago his own version of health care reform, before having this opportunity to listen to ideas from our side of the aisle, and while not incorporating a single important idea that has been put forward by a Republican, and

:Whereas the Majority Leader of the Senate has already indicated his intent to engage the "nuclear option," and force the current health care reform bill through without any Republican support, and

:Whereas the American people, according to Real Clear Politics, are against this health care reform by a 52-38 margin;

Therefore we, the members of the Republican Congressional Delegation, refuse to be a party to this political kabuki theater until and unless:

:the President comes to this bank of microphones and pledges to veto any budget bill that includes the current health care bill, or anything substantially similar to it

:the President accepts our proposals for altering the agenda for today's summit to include substantive discussions of tort reform and interstate purchasing of insurance."

The Republican caucus is serious about health care reform, but we do not believe it serves the American people to sign on to systems that have proven to fail in other countries and even in some large American states. If the President is serious about a bipartisan solution to fixing the best health care system in the world, we eagerly await him taking steps to make that happen.

And then they need to step back an wait on the lawn for an hour. As reporters ask them questions, they need to keep their answers short and sweet and on topic: "We published our reform ideas weeks ago at www. . . . ", "there is no point in proceeding without that pledge," "that's the difference between seriousness and theater."

And after one hour, they need to walk away.

The GOP needs to stop being dupes and putting themselves in positions where they look small and ineffectual. Tomorrow is nothing but political cover for Dems--DON'T BE A PARTY TO IT!


If the Chief Architect of the Cruise Liner Was Rushing For A Life Boat . . . 

wouldn't you be headed for the lifeboats, too?

Imagine that scene in Titanic where the ship's architect reassures Rose that nothing can sink his boat; now imagine instead that he was rushing for an exit with a life vest in hand (come to think of it, that probably would have made the movie much better!).

Well, now comes word that George Soros has doubled his gold investments over the past few weeks.

Why the analogy? Gearge Soros is the money behind MoveOn.org; MoveOn was a major player behind the de-legitimizing of the Bush administration; MoveOn was a force in both the 2006 Dem takeover of Congress and in Barack Obama's push to the White House; and nobody really knows how much money Soros spread around during the last two election cycles. But we do know that he has the President's ear.

And now he's significantly increasing his investments in a commodity that is inflation- and depression-proof.

First rat off the ship, after pointing it at the iceberg and jamming the accelerator down.


Bad Week for Al Gore and the Church 

Let me just say this once again: if the science is crap, then the conlusions are crap!

First, Phil Jones, the head of climate science at East Anglia University in England (yes, that East Anglia--the one with the emails) gives an interview in which he basically admits that the warming we've seen in the last several years is, essentially, no different from warming observed in the late 1800s and again in th eearly 1900s. Now, let's see . . . I'm no historian, but I don't think Abe Lincoln arrived at the theater in an SUV . . .

Then, John Christy (who I've written about before) released a study demonstrating that many of the temperature variances measured by the IPCC were due to urbanization. One of the weather stations was located next to an incinerator, and others next to waste treatment plants.

And from the same Times of London article, Ross McKitrick, economics professor, released his analysis of the latest IPCC Report. To say the least, his conclusions are damning:

We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC's climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialisation and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias.

I think it's time for people who believe in anthropogenic global warming nee climate change to reassess their theology. And it's about time for serious people in Congress ( I know--really small group) to call Cap n' Trade what it is: the buying of Indulgences.


Obvious School Funding Alternatives 

I started a discussion a week ago about the sorry fiscal state my employer is in right now. I've spent a little time looking around for alternatives since then, and, frankly, the options are few. However, there are some pretty smart ideas that would help school districts maximize taxpayer dollars out there.

:build schools using a municipal/capital lease--have a private company build the school, and own it for a set period of time (say, 25 years); during that time, the school district can lease the builing from the company, and then buys it outright for a bargain price at the end of the lease contract

:private service contract for renovations--in this model, the private company assumes ownership of the facility for a short time; all costs for materials and supplies then becomes a tax break for the company, and the district gets to save substantially on the difference between a private contractor getting a job and having to send out in-house people to get it done.

:another model encourages nonprofit corps to house schools in external facilities like malls and offices; there the savings are realized through housing schools in existing facilities at much cheaper costs.

Obviously, all of these ideas deal with the construction end of school funding, not the operating end. And that is where you see a lot of the dramatic bad numbers on the news--operational deficits.

But if a school district can save money on construction, it can build and upgrade to better facilities that max educational opportunities. And if a district demonstrates to its public that it's being smart with their money, the public will respond through greater support (including, maybe, voting for a mill levy increase).

I'll work more for later on operational funding ideas.


Kouric the Lightweight and Obama the Liar 

Sorry if that's unseemly to call names, but that's simply the case. He said he wants Republicans to put their specific ideas on the table--they've been doing that for two years. Job creation is his first job and was last year?--then why did he backload so much of the "stimulus" for two and three and five years down the road? Eliminating lobbyists--other than the twenty that he appointed to posts in his first ten weeks. Stimulus transparency? how exactly do we track those expenditures through congressional districts that don't exist? So much for bipartisanship--blame the Republicans, and Couric actually tried to press him that Democrats voted against it. And, of course, let's take one more opportunity to blame his predecessor. Um . . . that's actually not what the CBO said about the deficit, at least once you factor in realistic growth projections (not the 7% that they built in to the bill). Oh . . .so now the story is that he clammed up first? I don't think that jives with anything that's been reported yet. That doesn't really make sense.

It's nice that he gets a four minute infomercial in the middle of the afternoon on the network that is carrying the top-watched program of the year. And that he gets handed questions without any follow-up from the weakest journalist in the business. I'm looking over her shoulder at a list of very neatly typed up questions--I wonder how far in advance he got to look at those questions.

That was a waste of four minutes of television--I wonder if there was any chance for a Republican to answer that. Wouldn't it have been great to cut from the President and Couric straight to Sarah Palin with some real journalist?

Deny the Premise, Hold The Administration Accountable for Dumb Luck 

By now the "professional journalists" have all reported that, according to the administration, Abdulmutallab (the Christmas Bomber) has been talking to authorities. The administration seems to think that this should be the end of the conversation about the brilliance of giving this guy his Miranda after 50 minutes in custody.

EVERY single Republican of standing should be on the Sunday chats tomorrow saying "so what?" So he started singing like a bird after we pulled some strings on hime after five weeks in custody--what might have happened in those five weeks? And does anybody think his intel is still worth a damn after five weeks?

On December 25th, he knew the location of where he had been trained, and he knew the faces of the 0ther people he had gone through training with. By February 8th, that location is obsolete news, and the other people have absorbed into the local scene (perhaps of London and Paris, even). The point is that intel has a pretty short shelf life, and by giving this guy the means to put off giving us anything useful for five weeks, we've all but guaranteed that "useful" is not the best formulation for what he's giving us. We're very, very lucky that none of the other people he trained with tried to pull off an attack while he was lawyering up.

But this isn't news--or, at least, others a lot smarter than me have made these points already. I'm writing for the benefit of the people who are going to be on TV in the morning who (being Washington Republicans) are probably going to be tongue-tied and sheepish about this news. Don't BE!! Stay agressive and on the attack. This President, through the people who report directly to him, pulled a "knee-jerk liberal" move in handling this guy, and the opposition Party has a duty to hold his feet to the fire on this one. The "professional journalist" will try to dismiss this as a fait accompli, and whoever is from our side has to reject the premise outright and turn to the offense.


We Should Be Able To Do Better Than This 

The school district that I work for has announced recently that it is, based on different legislative actions that are shaping up right now, facing a budget deficit somewhere in the vicinity of $50 million this year.

$50 million. Just consider that for a moment. In a school district of roughly 84,000 students, that's a funding deficit of around $594 PER STUDENT.

The causes for this are multiple and varied, and they include the economic downturn and the crash of the real estate market.

But $50 million is a big number, and it has led to some pretty wild speculation, including everything from a four-day school week to teacher furlough days to a salary cut for teachers.

But nobody--at least nobody that I've heard from--is attacking the root of the problem. And that is this: the way we fund schools is inadequate to the needs of this world in this time. Schools are paid for from a combination of federal (7%), state and local monies in conjunction with local property taxes. When the real estate market crashed, school monies went down; when an area ages and decays (as areas are wont to do), school monies go down. When the legislature has too many mandates and too little money, school monies go down.

My contention is that as long as school funding is tied to property values, the system is designed to create and/or broaden the gap between high performers and low-income students. The system as it is currently designed practically guarantees that geography is destiny: your opportunity for a great education is largely tied to what neighborhood you live in.

I would love it if somebody would come up with a better way to fund school--and vouchers, if at all, are only part of the solution (vouchers would still be tied to property taxses). I welcome thoughts on the issue, and I will be offering a few thoughts of my own over the next few days.

If the future depends on the education of our children, then we had better start coming up with a better way to pay for that education.

Because I don't want to have to learn a new language . . .like German.

More on this in the days to come.

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