Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Makin' Bail

If this were a carnival, no one would pay to see the show. Since it is the economy and the election, we can't stop looking. I still don't know how to react to all that has gone on in the past week, but I was driving around today and listening to Limbaugh on one station and Robinette on another, and I came up with these thoughts:

- The boy who cried wolf: Whatever ends up happening, George W. Bush's legacy is in the potty. After the WMD, the Katrina response, Enron, Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzoles, wiretapping and now - telling us for months the economy was fine, then doing a 180 and telling us that the sky is falling in the last week if Wall Street didn't get $700 billion USD no strings attached? No wonder the American people responded so negatively to "the plan." The White House should have been more concerned with a "credibility freeze" than a "credit freeze."

- The Vast Pelosi Conspiracy: This is what Limbaugh has been chirping about all day. The Democrats set this whole thing up to make Republicans look bad and win the elections in the fall. They want "as much economic chaos as possible" and have been able to manufacture a crisis within the last two weeks. Let us ignore the fact that the $700B USD "plan" was loathed by the American people on the face of things, and inconcievably put the Democratic leadership in the House, the Senate and the current Democratic candidate for President on the same "fundamental understanding" page as the current incumbent, credibility challenged Republican President who's legacy is going down the sewer. Let us also ignore the fact that these Democrats couldn't set up a game of chess if more than three of them were involved, much less set up something like this.

- The Word on Esplanade Avenue: May not be Main Street, USA, but it is close enough. The Republicans I have talked to have been of two minds when it comes to "the plan." The majority: F Wall Street in the A. The minority: write the check with no strings attached. Yesterday and this morning, every Repbulican and conservative I spoke to was cheering the failure of the bill right up until I asked them how their portfolios or retirement was doing today. Then they started yelling about Democrats from 1994, as if the current year is 1995. The Democrats and Liberals I spoke with were wondering how they ended up on the same side of this thing with George W. Bush and against the House Republicans.

- House of Cards: Garland Robinette was discussing the competency of our House leadership today. Why would they have called a vote if they didn't know who was voting for or against it? This one is easy - under pressure to find a solution that would unfreeze credit markets before the market opened on Monday, the leadership had announced that a deal had been reached. The party whips probably had some preliminary numbers suggesting that members in mostly safe seats would vote for this stinker of a plan and members in hot seats would vote against. This would give the bill enough votes to pass but keep the political hopes of incumbents in hotly contested elections alive. But every prosecutor facing multiple defendants knows that the case gets made quickly by playing defendants against one another. Every "Nay" vote that came across caused a panic in the late voters, and Reps. started to re-think how secure their seat really was. By the end, the hemmorage of votes (and I'm sure the Democrats expected more of their caucus to vote for it as well) ended up with the bill failing by only 12 votes overall. That this stinky poo-sandwich of a bill only failed by 12 votes is a testament to both Parties' leaders spanking their membership into line. In the end, the score does not correctly reflect the game.

- Fallout: $1.2 Trillion USD of wealth vanished yesterday. Vaporized, as one financial analyst on CNN was saying. To revert to an earlier theme, such wealth obviously didn't have a whole lot of reality backing it up, another place where a "credibility freeze" is hurting us. Luckily, if said wealth was able to be vaporized without the aid of atomic weapons destroying really real assets, we have the chance to imagine ourselves up another $1.2 Trillion USD in relatively short order. I'm sure Wall Street is working on how to do that right. now.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Complications

Sometimes, when I come across an advice column in the paper or on the website I'm reading, I go through the complaints and wonder if whose being spoken of is someone I know. This is especially true for Reality Check in the Flagpole because I lived in Athens so long, I can almost recognize patterns of behavior in the townies who write in. I see folks I know behind every letter begging for advice.

But nothing, nothing hits as close to home as the first letter in today's Dear Prudence from Slate. Poor girl's boyfriend can't perform in the bedroom without blasting death metal music. Metalocalypse is getting a storyboard together right now.

So many of my friends grew up listening to metal, that I literally can't stop laughing at this. I'm a metal fan, too, but not in the same sphere as many of my friends. I know husbands who can't play certain CD's when wives are in the car. I know certain girls who had a difficult time finding the 'right man' because her taste in music was more extreme than all her dates. And I know the heavy metal couples that were all ooey-gooey love notes and flowers, and coming back from the Slayer show with bruises and blood!!!!

So, throughout the course of my life, I've had to listen to "tender moments" of "metal lovers." The growling and roaring of people, the punishing, brutal guitars from stereos as roommates & their significant others down the hall at all hours of the night did what folks in relationships do when they're hot and bothered. They just did it with the volume up at 11. Thing is, the chicks and dudes that made up the "significant other" pool seemed, for the most part, pretty into the musical bedroom mosh pit.

But there were a few of these dates who had the sultry, come hither attitude wiped clean off their face by the next morning after a six hour Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, and Sepultura marathon. And a lot of these metal heads now go to work wearing business attire, enjoy a glass of wine or craft brewed beer with dinner, have homes or apartments in the suburbs, and generally don't look like your metalhead stereotype.

I guess a few of them still get the bedroom mosh pit thing going, though. And I can see where that might come as a shock to the pop-ballad crowd on the dating scene.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Was it Over When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor?

I was going back and forth on using this title versus one of my favorite quotes from Back to the Future: "Who the hell is John F Kennedy?"

Apparently, VP Candidate Joe Biden said this during a recent Katie Couric interview:
When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, "look, here's what happened."

This is kind of sad. Almost Gore-looking-at-busts-of-our-founding-fathers-in-a-museum-and-saying-something-along-the-lines-of-"So who are these guys?" sad.* I'm still looking for a full transcript so I can see if this makes sense in some sort of context. If you have that, feel free to post it.

So out of curiosity, which glaring mistake hit you first? Most people I saw on the blogs were focused on the TV angle but Roosevelt jumped out at me so hard I almost missed the TV part.

* I really wish I could find that video. The only place I saw it was on Limbaugh's TV show way back when he had one. I wish my 24/7 wasn't expired.

Morning Voodoo

A small examination of who talks about economics, what they say, and what makes them angry.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

40 Hours Older

I read this and still can't beleive it. Ethan is getting his learner's permit in Georgia and it is going to take 40 registered hours to do so? WTF? When I getting my learners, it was a vision test and a road sign quiz. My pops taught me how to drive (for months) before he let me take off on my own, and even then armored me on the roads with a 1978 Monte Carlo (that horrified me at 16 when I didn't appreciate such beautiful mechanics and style).

I respect making folks actually get some driver's education before a permit, y'all, and I've driven through Atlanta enough to know driver's ed is needed. But, damn, 40 hours is a whole lot.

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Interesting Take

Huck has been following the details of the Palin phenomena closer than I have, apparently, and has this to say about the campaigns. Since I haven't had a lot of time to peruse my normal quotient of internet sites, especially the uber-right-wing ones, the email hackery thing was surprising to me. I mean, I've seen it, I just didn't thing the right wing blogosphere was burning that hot on the issue.

Though I wished I shared Huck's analysis of the GOP.

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Takeover Pains

More movement on the schools in New Orleans issue: if the state of Georgia has any brains whatsoever, they should send a team down to NOLA and look at what's been going on with the state takeover here. They should take lots of notes and talk to lots of folks, because if they're going to take over Clayton County (and have an effective mechanism in place to take over other county systems) they're going to need to learn these lessons in advance and not repeat the mistakes. I've already briefly compared Louisiana's state takeover with Georgia's takeover proposals.

The round-up starts with the currently under-the-weather-but-indefatigable Leigh, who's been touring the RSD/OPSB master plan meeting circuit.

Leigh's first play by play is here as she discusses a public meeting she had to get on tape. Her next post is a roundup of the next two links.

Christian attended the meeting under discussion and provides some historical analysis to what is going on.

E at We Could Be Famous rips the master plan apart for failing to build on gains where they have been made. Contrary to popular belief, there were some outstanding programs in New Orleans public schools, and some outstanding teachers and initiatives, and some fantastic facilities, that have been allowed to wither on the vine without support for years. Now that so much new money is coming in (theoretically/hopefully), there are questions why there has been so little redevelopment of already in-place infrastructure, physical and academic.

My thoughts on all this: more of the same things that have gotten us to where we are in the first place. As E calls it "snake oil salesmen" as Dante has called it "silver bullet fixes." The master plan is reinventing the wheel without addressing real issues of why New Orleans schools are constantly at risk.

Analytically, I'll address consolidation & building large enrollment schools. I personally find it important to keep neighborhood schools around, especially for elementary grades. But when it comes to high school and middle schools, having a facility that serves so few students is something I find ludicrous. I went to a high school with an enrollment between 1400 and 1500 students.* Glynn County had two such schools. Where I grew up, you went to your local elementary school, they fed into a known middle school, and certain middle schools fed into each high school. When I started Kindergarten at St. Simons Elementary, I knew that if my parents stayed anywhere near their same neighborhood, I would move into 6th grade at Glynn Middle School, and that I would graduate from Glynn Academy High School in 12th grade. My family knew teachers from all three schools, knew many students at all three schools, or they knew people within their community who knew people within the schools. So it isn't an impossibility to have a neighborhood school that holds a high school enrollment of around 2000.

The benefits of this kind of system are plainly seen to me now. First of all, it builds a social network of students, and provides stability and structure systematically. Files and records more easily followed students. In New Orleans, students hop from school to school and the records follow very slowly. Enrollment isn't ever set in stone, and new students show up in the middle of the school year or leave in the middle of the school year. As far as instruction is concerned, this is awful and undermining. You wonder why some students never learn how to read? You wonder why special needs students are never serviced adequately? They bounce from school to school and have to be evaluated constantly, never recieving the attention that they need. The school system cannot staff correctly for those needs because they are constantly playing catch-up as to what their actual needs are, and those needs are always changing.

Secondly, in such a structured system, teachers are able to teach one (there were a few exceptions) subject matter to one grade over the course of years. This creates teachers that are legitimate experts at their subjects, gives them the institutional knowledge of what their expectations are, and this also allows them to focus fully on their specific subject matter's grade level expectations. It further invests them with their job and experience, as their lesson plans from one year only need to be tweaked for more effectiveness - they don't need to reinvent the wheel for a new subject or a new grade level or both. Test scores and student acheivement are vitally tied to teachers knowing what they are doing, and if the teacher is required to teach radically different subjects to radically different grades year to year, you're only making the teacher's job harder and the students' instruction weaker.

Last year, I was teaching two classes of Earth Science and two classes of Life Science to 80 students. Double the enrollment for the middle school grades at that school (and adequately staff and fund the infrastrucutre) and you could have me teach one subject far more effectively to 80 students of the same grade, and bring in another teacher for the other subject far more effectively to another 80 students of another grade, without either teacher having to totally rearrange their classroom based on which class was being taught. For the fifth class, each teacher could handle one elective, and have that elective better prepared because we weren't spending all of our planning time between two different preps.

Which brings me to my 3rd advantage of a more structured, consolidated system: electives and extracurriculars. When I went to school, most of my actual academic classes were spent with rote learning trivia about that subject matter. Most of my critical thinking skills were honed in electives and extracurricular classes that were based around projects. Drama, art, band, debate, current events, gifted, Model UN, science fair projects, creative writing: these were the places where I learned fundamentals of problem solving, fund raising, publishing, teamwork and, most importantly, advanced researching and critical thought. Other students did the same working in shop class, pre-nursing/first-aid, economics, business classes, computer skills classes, radio operation, sports, sports, sports. This is a fundamental part of the educational structure that New Orleans lacks based completely on resource management.

When teachers are busy prepping for multiple classes, they don't have time to develop adequate extras where critical components of learning take place. And even when these things do come about, such as Students At the Center, instability of schools existing next year or being supported adequately undermine successful initiative which is so badly needed. Extracurriculars and electives also need teachers who have become experts at organizing and sponsoring said extras. The same instability that contributes to a teacher moving schools, grade levels and subject matters; that contributes to students bouncing from school to school, undermines the consistency and effectiveness of electives and extracurriculars.

Fourth, and I hate to use the military terminology here, but a structured and consolidated system allows the system not to be overwhelmed at the point of attack when it comes to special needs students and discipline issues. The Master Plan being discussed for NO has little to say in the realm of addressing these needs. And it really comes down to this: there are so many students in New Orleans public schools that are bright. They can learn within the confines of a normal classroom, they can learn things fast and they can take advantage of the expertise and experience of their teachers. These students' learning is being undermined because the school system has no mechanism for effectively addressing special needs and discipline issues. These on-level learners are being forced into classes where the teacher is spending all their time on the special needs students, and they are being forced into classes where they are in danger of being assaulted by discipline issue students. The awful thing is that, when a student assaults another student or a teacher or an administrator, the RSD has done very little to remove these problems from the student body at large. This undermines academic rigor and learning on an unprecedented scale.

A consolidated, structured system will allow large classrooms of 30 students who are on-level, and can learn in such an environment. That's a more effective use of teachers and more advantageous to students. For the disicpline problems and the special needs students, they can be easier identified (because they aren't bouncing from school to school) and can be placed in programs where they have smaller class sizes, breakout sessions and counseling for their unique situation, and that can happen without sacrificing the forward progress of the two dozen other students who are attempting to learn in a rigorous and safe environment.

So there's that. I'm not sure the RSD master plan is going to effectively address these issues. To me, it sounds like they're just consolidating schools and will continue the practice of overwhelming teachers, support staff and students, and not addressing the real problems that New Orleans schools face.

Georgia would do well to examine these when they consider state takeovers of county school systems.


* - Edit: Earlier, this post listed Glynn Academy and Brunswick High's enrollment between 1900 and 2100, due to my erroneous rememberance of how high school athletics were classified. The highest enrollment was apparently 1700+, as described by "patsbrother" in the comments section.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

America Saves the World?

It looks like the US of A is preparing to crack open their wallet and foot the bill for the world's recent financial woes. Fed Chairman Paulson is suggesting a plan that could cost upwards of $1 trillion to bail out financial institutions according to Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee.

This plan looks to have support in both parties. I don't doubt it with an election coming up. Support probably divides evenly down who is facing a tough reelection and who isn't. I think writing a blank check to Bush to bail out banks is a little over-reactive. I don't mind the AIG situation but that sort of thing should be a lot more special case than a norm.

Here's the most sane comment in the linked article:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a member of the Joint Economic Committee, told the Los Angeles Times: “What is missing from it and from the recent string of bailouts is a commitment to return to a free enterprise economy. ... What we need now is not what could be nearly a trillion dollars in new taxpayer bailouts but pro-growth policies that allow our markets to correct and start growing again.”

I think a few future bailouts are inevitable but a plan on how to learn from this situation is very much needed. What I'd really hate to see is an overreaction where we bail out everyone and then impose restrictions that erase any financial progress that was made in the past decade. Obviously a lot of ideas didn't pan out but a lot of things did. Babies and bath water are... no, wait a minute... you could stick your head up a butcher's... no, you're the butcher... Oh, you get the idea.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cold Numbers

No shocker here, either. According to the Economic Report of the President, Democratic Presidents are better for the economy than Republican Presidents. Averaged and aggregated from 1959 to 2007. They even include a one year delay, to keep the numbers as valid as you can for this kind of study.

Analysis and explanation as well.

This follows on the heels of the McCain - Palin ticket spending all yesterday sounding very Democratic, blaming the fat cats on Wall Street for breaking trust with the American people.


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Monday, September 15, 2008

State Takeover of Schools?

Or, Accreditategate 3

Back before the distractions of Hurricane Gustav and Sarah Palin, readers here and in the NOLA blogosphere were having some important conversations on education.

There are several different tracks to this ongoing conversation, but one discussion resonated loudly (especially on other blogs) and one has repeatedly gone over like the proverbial lead balloon (on this blog). Those respective discussions are A) the political implications and effectiveness of the charter school movement encouraged in the state-run Recovery School District in New Orleans (a lot of discussion) and B) the problem that most public New Orleans schools, especially those in the Recovery School District, are not accredited nor has anyone I've spoken to within that organization expressed knowledge of a plan for the RSD to become accredited, or expressed a lack of knowledge about what accreditation entails.

Leave it to my home state to bring both of these conversations threads together. Examinations of policy are so much easier when you have comparisons to point out.

Situation New Orleans: Before Katrina, you had a troubled school system before Katrina in 2005. The OPSB was troubled financially, physically, structurally. I believe that there were only a handful of schools with a recognized accreditation (from the Southern Association of Collges and Schools). When the storm hit, the state took the opportunity to take over most of the New Orleans area public schools with a creation known as the Recovery School District or RSD. OPSB got to keep a handful of schools from the old system, many of which did retain accreditation.

The RSD had actually existed before Katrina, I am told, as a state organization to help administer continually failing schools around the state. I do not think this organization was prepared (from an infrastructure standpoint) to take over 120+ schools in New Olreans. The 2006-2007 school year is a testament to this.

But, after looking at the history of the RSD in New Orleans, I have come to believe that this organization existed primarily to write contracts with the state and charter school organizations, and eventually divest itself of day to day control of most schools in New Orleans in favor of charter schools.

Much of the debate surrounding charter schools has to do with their political origin. Are they motivated more by progressive ideals to improve education with new ideas, especially with respect to at-risk urban and rural populations? Or are they motivated more by reactionary ideals to privatize education with 'market based solutions,' erode local control and break teachers' unions? While I think there is a combination: charter schools staffed by honest reformers but funded by organizations with regressive agendas, there is no denying that citizens who have grown up or have to raise their children in such at risk areas are willing to buy into either philosophy if it just gives their kids a better education and safer learning enviroment. If the teachers' union couldn't help fix the old system, why keep it? If experienced teachers worked for years in a failing system, why keep them? If so many problems came from Orleans Parish school board members and the corruption of that body over the years, why let them keep running things?

The rest of the debate surrounding charter schools has to do with that last question: do they give those kids a better education and learning environment? Do they deliver on their promise, regardless or political philosophy? Are they spending their budget money wiser, or are they just better funded from their parent organizations?

And a real kicker: if the RSD's primary unstated job is to act as the contractor between the state and the charter schools, what market incentive do the administrators have to run the non-charter schools well? While I worked in the RSD (and I hear about this even now), every security-risk-problem-child cannot be properly disciplined because of state law. Nothing could happen to those kids, they had to be kept around teachers they had threatened and students they posed a risk to, and the RSD and the state refused to remove them from traditional schools. Students like this are the ones who have more difficulty getting into charter schools. So conditions at the traditional schools continue to bolster the charter schools argument. Hasn't anyone heard of something called a "conflict-of-interest?"

Noticiably absent from this debate is the lack of interest in accreditation, and the fact that not one RSD school, traditional or charter has accreditation right now, nor have I heard of any school traditional or charter, making plans to apply for accrediation. Notwithstanding that holding New Orleans schools to accreditation standards (for example, SACS) would make learning conditions for students and working conditions for teachers subject to peer review from an outside source.

I could go on, but it is comparison time.

Enter Clayton County: 50,000 students, an at risk urban population in metro Atlanta. A school board that refuses to stop playing games. A population that somehow cannot get rid of these awful school board members now advocating for a state takeover of schools.

Sound familiar?

So the State of Georgia is now entertaining options that would give the state a little more say in how local school boards go about their business. While the "one bitten, twice shy" adage comes into play in my own mind, especially after serving a year in the RSD schools, Georgia seems to be looking at a much less invasive plan to deal with a very real problem. I mean, like all states, Georgia has problems with local school boards and members engaging in shenanigans. Clayton county was stripped of accreditation because of "dysfunctional" and "unethical" behaviors by school board members. Glynn County schools were put on probation for many of the same reasons back in 2005 - 2006.

And, in Georgia, accreditation means something, as the Athens Banner Herald sums it up: "students who graduate from the suburban Atlanta district may not be eligible for some scholarships or admission to many colleges."

And here the issue raises its head again: why is it that local residents cannot control their own school boards? Why do locals look at their home districts and see that a state takeover is a better option than retaining local control of schools? This problem isn't just a Georgia problem or a Louisiana problem, it is a problem all over the South and probably all over the nation.

It will be worth watching to see which state's answers to those questions end up working out.

HTs (and links): Athens bloggers JMac at Safe As Houses and Hillary at Antidisingenuousmentarianism, who are noting benefits and expressing skepticism with Georgia's plan.

Quotes

Though, according to Dante, I confuse "slow" with "grow" when it comes to the economy, I rarely associate a growing economy with one of the largest financial instituions in America filing for bankruptcy. I rarely associate a growing economy when Merril Lynch gets sold off to Bank of America at a loss. As I'm writing this, the Dow Industrials are fluctuating wildly.

These are not one time happenings, and we have had years of stuff like this. From Enron and Worldcom, to the real estate bubble to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and now this. These are not accidents. Like coughing up green phlegm, fever and vomiting are symptoms of someone being sick; our headlines today are even more symptoms of our economy being sick. That would be my analogy.

Oyster uses a shoes metaphor: "They [your shoes] were on Wall Street, but you got a little drunk, and you scuffed 'em up, and stepped in a puddle of blood, and now they're ruined and you have to sell them for pennies on the dollar." He's got a fine write up on this morning's financial news, as well.

A huge part of the American dream, after homeownership, is being able to take care of your own family financially for both medical expenses, sending your kids to college and saving for retirement. The way a lot of Americans do this is through buying in to a small part of the financial markets, so their money can begin working for them. When the market gets sick because of irresponsible decsions by CEO's and the speculator class, aided by the deregulations that are philosophically supported by the Republicans, that keeps the middle class at more financial risk.

And I shouldn't need to remind anyone that the philosophical "fix" for Social Security from the Bush administration and any future Republican administration is to use private accounts tied to the stock markets.

"The situation with Lehman Brothers and other financial institutions is the latest in a wave of crises that are generating enormous uncertainty about the future of our financial markets. This turmoil is a major threat to our economy and its ability to create good-paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills, save for their future, and make their mortgage payments.

The challenges facing our financial system today are more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store. Eight years of policies that have shredded consumer protections, loosened oversight and regulation, and encouraged outsized bonuses to CEOs while ignoring middle-class Americans have brought us to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.

I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It’s a philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years – one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises.

Well now, instead of prosperity trickling down, the pain has trickled up – from the struggles of hardworking Americans on Main Street to the largest firms of Wall Street.

This country can’t afford another four years of this failed philosophy."

The above quote I got from a statement released by the Obama campaign. (Hat tip: Humid Haney)

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Louisiana Coast and Politics

Both Mark Folse and Maitri have fantastic write ups on the condition of the Louisiana coast with respect to how energy is produced in this country, primarily existing as post-Gustav write ups from the parts of Louisiana that have been ignored or forgotten by the national media. "Digging their graves is what feeds them." Powerful stuff from both sites.

After reading these, I am going to address the issues raised with respect to current American national politics. This is a McCain administration preview, because I have heard nothing from that campaign that tells me they plan to do anything about this very serious issue.

One major policy concern I have with the McCain-Palin ticket is the "drill, drill, drill" and the "no major spills" line they use as their "change" in current American "energy policy."

While I have accepted that the question is not "if" we will drill but "when and how" we will drill, I trust the Obama-Biden ticket to address our energy woes more effectively and rationally than the other guys. Politicallhy speaking, Democrats could own this issue if they took it more seriously and spoke about real environmentalism to independent voters everywhere as opposed to just their base. This is not about spotted owls, this is about human babies and middle class Americans.

What has happened to the Louisiana coast over the last 50 or so years as the example of how not to do things. This is one of the primary examples of something in this country that needs to change, on a national policy level (as well as state and local), that will not change under McCain-Palin. All they have to do is put the pictures on television, and interview Acadians for personal testimony, to demonstrate with a strong precedent that what has happened to the Louisiana coast is what happens when you look for energy without regulation or respect to the human and natural environment. It would not be difficult to show this precedent, and at the same time point to Anyplace, USA for their own versions of where unchecked business and politization of environmentalism have led to economic and human hardships.

Then, when they win the White House, or the Senate, or the Congress, or the State House or the Mayoral race, the County Commission race or whatever race that gives them a chance to do something about it, they must deliver the change necessary to address issues like this.

It isn't just a Democratic issue, either. If Republicans could make their own case, promise and deliver real change while leaning on their friends in industries to make things better, they would own this issue, and appeal to independent voters worried about the environment as well. But I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen, and as the party in power nationally for so long, they would have a much higher hurdle to jump over (though with more to prove, they may be more apt to demonstrate results...) gaining credibilty on this ground.

And this is not an anti-business post, it is a government-not-doing-its-job post. When government gives no rules or direction to business, they will do whatever they can get away with - just like children. When business makes a mess, and can't or won't clean things up due to selective enforcement of or ambiguous writing of regulations, taxpayers end up footing the bill. Putting the onus on the taxpayers to decide whether to clean up the mess that business leaves (intentionally or accidentally) while seeking profit is a burden to the taxpayer and the average citizen either way: as they either have to pay up or live with the mess created.



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South Carolina Preview

Ah, yes. The wind is gusting to about 20 mph here on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, LA. The humidity getting sucked into and spit out by Hurricane Ike to our south will continue to hose us down and dry us out over the course of the next 36 hours. But the freshness in the air reminds me of one thing: football season.

Because of Gustav, I pretty much missed out on the first two weeks of college football. Hey, it happens. I did get my power turned on just in time to see Knowshon Moreno go wheels up and hurdle some poor Central Michigan defensive back and leave the air-traffic control personell at Hartsfield-Jackson wondering what that blip was on radar. But this Saturday will be the first real day I get to belly up to the bar (That would be Bruno's on Maple Street at 2:30 CDT, for any of the 14th Ward Dawg fans in the NOLA who don't know...) and take in hours of television and pints of beer. And it is the day Georgia opens SEC play up in Columbia against the University of South Carolina, and the hated visor wearing Steve Spurrier.

I wish I could give a detailed pre-game analysis of the situation, but I can't say anything that hasn't already been typed out and linked in the Dawgoshpere. Spending too many nights rolling burritos will cut down on my ability to offer anything substantive to the conversation. In lieu of this, I point you towards a far better mind than my own and what he has to say about the game: Doug Gillet of Hey, Jenny Slater!.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pissing on My Leg

And telling me it's rainin'.

I gotta hand it to the Republicans, y'all. They have done it again.

Without a real record to run on, as the executive policies of the last 8 years have ended so badly for this country; no booming trickle-down economic gains to point to, as home foreclosures increase and the value of the American home -the basis of the middle class financial security- continues to go down; and with folks burned out on the culture war promises that Repbulicans have used to gain office and then failed to deliver; with no plans to change any real policies save increasing tax breaks for the top 1% and continuing our disasterous foreign policy that has left us hamstrung and war weary after protracted conflicts and only emboldened the likes of Russia, Venezuela and Iran to continue shenanigans; they have finally found a way to change the whole context of the debate, nationwide.

Let's make the election a referendum on Gov. Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin from Alaska.

To quote ATL recording artist Lil' John: WHAT!?!?!

My pops called me this morning to ask about the latest Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin media frenzy. I told him: "sorry, pops, but ever since this woman arrived on the Bush - McCain ticket durning the evacuation of New Orleans, the only places I've been able to get real news have been the Weather Channel, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated, and the blogs I have been able to read."

That I sould learn more about the state of Baton Rouge's recovery from Hurricane Gustav from sports writers and Every Day Should Be Saturday than from MSNBC, Fox News and CNN is absolutely shameful. That there has been no national news about places like Houma or anywhere in south Louisiana, is just a testament to how childish the national media is.

Texas, at least Louisiana and Florida will be able to commisserate with your coming troubles. Moving 1,000,000 + civilians out of harms way should be stories of the year in our "Post-9/11 Society", and the Republicans and Democrats, civilians and soldiers who mobilized so readily should be more than mere pieces of interest in the next round of independent documentaries.

And I heard for about two minutes the day before yesterday that Russia, agressors of past and present, will now be conducting naval excercises with Venezuela. That's a slightly important change in world affairs to slip in under the radar. You'd think something like that would even be considered helpful to the McCain campaign. But it isn't really about John McCain any more, is it?

But they have more important things to worry about in the national media, like digging up rumors about Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin, discrediting them, and taking hours of on-air time to do it. But remember folks, Republicans say the media is attacking Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin, so it must be true. You know, there are awful rumors they are talking about awful things: including banning library books and arguing with Alaska state troopers and attending a crazy church for years. Oh, Jeez!

Not like that guy for change, Barak Obama, who still has to fight the perception that he is a Muslim, had cartoons of him drawn depicting he and his wife burning American flags, and made a hand gesture (one I and about 50 million other Americans make every day) that a Fox News anchor called a 'terrorist fist jab.' And he went to his own crazy church for years, too, but his was more anti-American than the end-times fundamentalism of Palin's church (because during the rapture, we all know that Jesus will come back wearing an American Flag pin on his lapel...). Yeah, the media just loves Barak Obama. < / sarcasm >

So, here we go. Instead of talking about the economics of the nation that continue to slow, the disaster management and recovery of three major states, the continued disaster recovery of several more states from storms years ago, the foreign policy that has emboldened our rivals at our own expense, how dangerous to human populations and the environment that drilling for oil has proven to be (especially in the Gulf of Mexico), the socialization of risk where taxpayers bail out stockholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac coupled with the deregulation that caused it to happen in the first place, and a dozen and a half other things that are far, far more important to the day to day lives of everyone in America not making $250,000 per year (or $5million a year), we're talking today about...

...wait for it....

...Sarah "He Hate Me" Palin's lipstick.

Wow.


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Monday, September 08, 2008

Props

Lots in the news about John McCain and Sarah "Media Hate Me" Palin, but I'd like to see a little bit of national focus on one Republican who deserves some props: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Maybe when Ike is over and the Gustav recovery is further underway, we'll get a little bit more of a post-event(s) wrapup.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

Out of Context Quote of the Week...

I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need.
-John McCain

This is why Talk Show Hosts Typically Don't Endorse Candidates...

So it seems that women everywhere are fawning over McCain's newly-minted running mate... except for Oprah. She apparently doesn't want Palin on the show. It's her show. She can do what she wants. But given the people I've talked to who are fans of Oprah, Oprah could face some serious backlash from snubbing Palin. I stand by my "meh" assessment of Palin as VP material but now even my Grandmother, who has never in her life voted for a Republican (she even voted for Mondale), is planning on voting McCain/Palin this November. I hate to break this to Oprah but it's the Oprah crowd that is so in love with Palin. Oprah would be wise to get over her political leanings and go with the flow on this one. You don't tick off the Oprah crowd. That could get ugly.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

But You ARE a Loser Because You Live at Home with Your Parents...

In a big what-is-this-world-coming-to moment, I ran across an article on how to deal with dating when you're a grown adult who lives at home with your parents. It gives a few stories and then has a segment for each story called "The Solution." I have a solution for you: be a grown-up and stop leeching off your parents. Here are the best quotes from the article:

She [Whitney] can say [to her mom], 'You're going to have to look at me as a responsible adult who can make smart decisions for herself.'


"I feel a little uncomfortable having dates over when you're here. Can we work out a plan?"


"I moved home because I got laid off from my job and it gave me the time to record my band's album,"


"What Joel can do is describe his living situation in terms of his plans-in Joel's particular case, saving money to record his band's album," Medea says. "Then he can focus on talking about the dream, rather than the things he has to do to make the dream happen. And since it's a cool dream, the woman will cut him some slack."


I don't consider myself to have reached the crusty old man stage of my life yet, but what in the hell is wrong with these youngsters? All of the people mentioned in the article have been back living with their parents for at least 3 years now. Joel is the guy that every father hopes their daughter steers clear of. He's 26 in a band and lives at home with his mom and dad.