Thursday Mashup (10/11/12)

October 11, 2012
  • Gosh, Willard Mitt Romney just looks so presidential here, doesn’t he?…

    Mitt Romney called Monday for a change of course in America’s Middle East policy, accusing President Obama of sitting on the sidelines in the face of a “profound upheaval” across the region. The Republican nominee pledged that, if elected, he would prosecute a far more engaged foreign policy, including helping to arm the opposition in Syria’s bloody civil war.

    “Hope is not a strategy,” Romney said.

    In response, Juan Cole, who I’m sure has forgotten more about Syria and the Middle East in general than Romney will ever know, outlines at least ten reasons here why arming the Syrian rebels would be a terrible idea (let’s see, one of the rebel groups is affiliated with al Qaeda; another, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, is pals with Hamas; flooding the region with weapons makes for an already volatile mix given Israel’s continued intransigence on those godawful settlements, etc.).

    Oh, and it’s not as if Romney’s supposed foreign policy strategy is so different from Obama’s anyway (I mean, to the extent that we can trust Romney at all on this subject, as noted here…and it looks like Romney shook that Etch-a-Sketch, or something, on this issue here).

    Not to be outdone, though, Romney’s fellow U.S. House Repugs carried out another little dog-and-pony show in lieu of actual governance here concerning the attack on our embassy in Libya and the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

    Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the U.S. House responsible for funding government operations? Such as security for our embassy personnel (with Repug Jason Chaffetz being dumb enough to give away the proverbial game here…and by the way, it looks like Chaffetz stepped in deep doo-doo again here)?

  • Next, I give you someone named Jay Greene, who claims to be “a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute” (not something I would advertise if it were me, actually – here)…

    Last week’s presidential debate revealed one area of agreement between the candidates: We need more teachers. “Let’s hire another hundred thousand math and science teachers,” proposed President Obama, adding that “Governor Romney doesn’t think we need more teachers.”

    Mr. Romney quickly replied, “I reject the idea that I don’t believe in great teachers or more teachers.” He just opposes earmarking federal dollars for this purpose, believing instead that “every school district, every state should make that decision on their own.”

    As noted here and here, Willard Mitt mocked Obama for wanting to hire more teachers, even though, as noted here, 100,000 teachers have lost their jobs over the prior year (yikes!).

    Continuing with Greene…

    Let’s hope state and local officials have that discretion—and choose to shrink the teacher labor force rather than expand it. Hiring hundreds of thousands of additional teachers won’t improve student achievement. It will bankrupt state and local governments, whose finances are already buckling under bloated payrolls with overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits.

    Concerning those “overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits”…well, they were “grossly underfunded” for a reason – namely because states were legally obligated to contribute matching amounts but refused to do so (here).

    And get a load of this generalization from Greene…

    Most people expect that more individualized attention from teachers should help students learn. The problem is that expanding the number of hires means dipping deeper into the potential teacher labor pool. That means additional teachers are likely to be weaker than current ones.

    Couldn’t you say that about every occupation if you wanted to, then? Besides, what about degreed teachers who aren’t able to find work in their profession, but instead are working other jobs (such as at Lowe’s, Wal-Mart or Applebee’s until, hopefully, a legitimate teaching job opens up)?


    Then there is the trade-off between labor and capital. Instead of hiring an army of additional teachers, we could have developed and purchased innovative educational technology. The path to productivity increases in every industry comes through the substitution of capital for labor. We use better and cheaper technology so that we don’t need as many expensive people. But education has gone in the opposite direction, making little use of technology and hiring many more expensive people.

    I would be shocked to find out if this guy actually had a son or daughter attending a public or parochial school. Having a state-of-the-art white board doesn’t mean a damn thing if all the teacher does is use it for presentations while he/she sits at their desk and catches up on Facebook or their Email instead of using their people skills and training to, y’know, actually teach their students.

    As usual, a Repug thinks so little of anything related to liberal arts that they think technology can totally replace the function that a certain individual committed a great deal of money and a significant amount of time to learn about as part of their course of study.

    One more thing…here is a reminder here that teachers, as well as public sector workers in general, do indeed contribute to economic growth (silly to feel compelled to point that out, but we are where we are – and as long as Greene said that Obama’s call for more teachers is a “Solyndra-like solution”…an idiotic statement because there is no comparison between the Solyndra loan and teachers…the following should be noted from here).

  • Continuing, I give you Fix Noise “Democrat” Pat Caddell here

    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece which was called “The Audacity of Cronyism ” in Breitbart, and my talk today is “The Audacity of Corruption.” What I pointed out was, that it was appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail. A staff member in the White House who is a senior aide and has a full Secret Service detail, even while on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why. That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security—while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.

    This tells us, among other things, that there were multiple teams of armed guards at the Libyan consulate. Also, Dubya designated more of his appointees for Secret Service protection than Obama, as noted here (and yes, this is a recording)

    And based on this, if Caddell is a “Democrat,” then I’m the illegitimate love child of William F. Buckley (and rest assured that I’m not).

  • Further, it’s time to pick the proverbial low-hanging fruit with Thomas Sowell (here, he decries the “name calling” of President Obama and his supporters)…

    In response, Sowell referred to “green bigot” environmentalists here, called Teresa Heinz-Kerry “rich white trash” here, and (just for kicks I suppose) called for a military coup here.

    As usual, a conservative looks in the mirror and sees the reflection of everyone but him (or her) self.

  • Moving on, it looks like Catholics supposedly aren’t supporting Obama after all (oh noes!) according to “The Catholic Association” (here).

    Meanwhile, this Pew poll tells a very different story (praise the Lord!).

  • Finally, I give you the following from The Hill (here)…

    House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is questioning Obama administration financial support for green energy companies in former Vice President Al Gore’s portfolio, calling it part of a “disturbing pattern.”

    Upton is quoted in a Washington Post story on Gore’s success as an investor in green technology companies, which the Post reports has helped boost Gore’s wealth to an estimated $100 million.

    The Post reports that 14 green tech companies that Gore invested in directly or indirectly have “benefited from more than $2.5 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks, part of President Obama’s historic push to seed a U.S. renewable-energy industry with public money.”

    Upton, a frequent critic of federal green energy support, calls the aid “reflective of a disturbing pattern that those closest to the president have been rewarded with billions of taxpayer dollars . . . and benefited from the administration’s green bonanza in the rush to spend stimulus cash.”

    This is utterly farcical, of course, but there’s a method to Upton’s wingnuttery, in case we had any doubt about that.

    Here, Upton called for end to oil subsidies after repeatedly voting to preserve them; this tells us that he has received about $144 K from the oil and gas sector in the way of campaign contributions – and Upton is chair of the House Energy Subcommittee (can you say, “conflict of interest”?); and here, Upton claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Law was the first occasion where legislation was passed with no support from the Repugs – the only problem is that the first Clinton budget, which ushered in the longest period of prosperity this country has seen (or maybe ever will see) was voted on the same way.

    I would say that one’s notion of a “disturbing pattern” is in the eye of the beholder, wouldn’t you?

  • A Message For “The Orange One”

    August 9, 2010

    Nothing else to say I guess except “Now watch this drive,” huh John?

    Wednesday Mashup (12/23/09)

    December 23, 2009

  • 1) The following letter appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times yesterday…

    It hasn’t taken the local Republican smear campaign long to get into high gear. State Rep. Steve Santarsiero has not been in office a full year, but already they’re trying to tear him down. As usual, they have shown themselves to be unconstrained by the facts.

    The latest attack comes from Andy Raffle, the campaign manager of a Republican candidate running against Santarsiero. Raffle claimed, incorrectly, that Santarsiero only takes positions supported by the teachers and trade unions. Raffle is wrong.

    Steve Santarsiero supports an approach to teacher-school district contract impasses that would require each side to submit last best offers to a judge who would then choose one of them at the end of a short cooling off period. The judge’s decision would be binding. But the likelihood is that the judge would never need to decide, since the threat of an adverse decision would be a strong incentive for both sides to reach a fair agreement that would avoid any work stoppage and end the impasse.

    Raffle claims the teachers union supports this idea. It does not, nor do most school boards, which suggest to me that it just might be the fairest approach. Raffle also claims the idea is unconstitutional and would require a constitutional amendment. In my view, he’s wrong again.

    There’s nothing in the constitution that prevents the Legislature from giving the courts this power. To the contrary, the constitution explicitly grants the Legislature the power to determine the court’s jurisdiction. As far as other unions are concerned, Raffle ignores the fact that Santarsiero’s opposition to the proposed Frankford Hospital project does not please area trade unions. Those unions understandably want jobs, especially in these tough times. Santarsiero is sympathetic to those concerns but does not believe that the short term benefits of that work outweigh the long-term impact of a bad idea for our community.

    I believe that most people acknowledge what a good job Santarsiero is doing on behalf of the people of the Yardley-Newtown area. Whether it’s bringing reform to Harrisburg or helping people back home, in less than a year in office, Steve has already made a significant difference.
    No wonder Raffle and his cohorts feel that their only chance is to sling mud. So be it. In the end, the truth will win out.

    Joe Sundeen
    Lower Makefield, PA

    I’m not going to get into all of the wingnuttia in the comment thread to Sundeen’s letter (“in the pocket of the unions” this, “bought into the global warming myth” that, and as always…”ACORN!!”). If anyone chooses to read any of that mess themselves, feel free to do so (and to contact Steve, click here).

  • 2) And speaking of teachers (Steve’s former occupation), I happened to come across the following AEI nonsense here (and I have no clue who the author or Nick Schulz is, by the way)…

    Last week, Nick Schulz asked an interesting question about school districts’ responses to the recession—specifically whether any have decided to cut pay (due to deteriorating budgets) instead of furloughing or laying off staff.

    From what I’ve seen, the answer is not so much. A big part of the explanation is collective bargaining agreements. In order to cut pay, most districts would need to go back to the bargaining table and get their local unions to agree to pay concessions. That hasn’t happened to the extent I expected. One quite stark example comes from Connecticut. The Republican-American newspaper (of Waterbury), quoted the head of the state’s teacher union saying that teachers aren’t responsible for budget troubles, so they shouldn’t be expected to fix them.

    And of course, reading this, you would think that teachers as a whole have emerged pretty much unscathed during the recession due to those baaad collective bargaining agreements.

    The reality, however, is something wholly other; as noted here…

    Bankers, lawyers and journalists have taken pay cuts and gone without raises to stay employed in a tough economy. Now similar givebacks are spreading to education, an industry once deemed to be recession-proof.
    All 95 teachers and five administrators in the Tuckahoe school district in Westchester County agreed to give $1,000 each to next year’s school budget to keep the area’s tax increase below 3 percent. In the Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow district, 80 percent of the 500 school employees — including teachers, clerks, custodians and bus drivers — have pledged more than $150,000 from their own pockets to help close a $300,000 budget gap.

    And on Long Island, the 733 teachers in the William Floyd district in Mastic Beach decided to collectively give up $1 million in salary increases next year to help restore 19 teaching positions that were to be eliminated.

    New York State’s powerful teachers’ unions have rarely agreed to reopen contract negotiations in bad economic times, let alone make concessions. But as many school districts presented flat budgets to voters in recent weeks, teachers in at least a dozen suburban areas have opened the door to compromise to save jobs, preserve programs and smaller class sizes, and show support for the towns and villages where many of them have taught generations of families.

    And lest anyone think these troubles are confined to the Empire State, this tells us of teacher positions slashed in the South, this tells us that fewer Florida teachers are seeking board certification due to the economy, and this tells us of a dimming job outlook for teachers in Bozeman, Montana.

    There is good news here, though, in that there appears to be no collective bargaining agreement for right-wing pundits, so these generic AEI wingnuts will have to fend for themselves if either their funding and/or site hit count experiences a significant decline.

  • 3) And finally, concerning a wholly other matter, fellow blogger Antemedius tells us the following here (some appropriate commentary concerning recent “corpocrat” capitulation in Congress, particularly in the matter of health care reform)…

    My concern is with those who can’t keep beating their heads against a brick wall are dropping away in disgust, a disgust I share, by the way, and who would indeed be abandoning the field. My wife and I have filled out our passport applications. What’s needed is a plan for the decent activists who’ve plugged away for years, who’ve haven’t shared the joys of being a party insider.. We can’t just call for nose to the grindstone, stiff upper lip, take (another) one for the team. We need to give them something that they can do that is not contingent on the higher-ups leading it, funding it, legitimizing it.

    We need to give them a stick.

    Thus the Full Court Press.

    The plan:

    The basic concept is simple and flexible. The Committee for a Full Court Press (FCP) (I just made up the name) would agree on the following principles [slightly modified from an 8-principle list]:

  • WPA-style jobs program
  • Medicare for all the uninsured
  • Repeal Hyde Amendment and its ilk
  • U.S. out of Afghanistan
  • The 4 points are offered as a suggestion, and would be decided upon by those initially forming the FCP based upon activist feedback. But once approved, they would ultimately not be negotiable at the local level.

    The bottom line is to have at least one FCP candidate on the primary ballot in every district.

    The FCP activist would pay the required filing fee or gather required signatures or combination thereof to get on the primary ballot. While any FCP candidate could run a full-fledged campaign with the intent to win the seat, a minimal candidate could:

  • Ask the other candidates if they will actively support the FCP points and say so in writing.
  • If they sign, the FCP candidate could simply endorse that candidate, or the best of those candidates (if such is the case) and campaign actively for their endorsee or not as the FCP candidate sees fit.
  • If that candidate betrays the points, the FCP candidate would have the option of campaigning more aggressively.
  • If no other candidate supports the FCP points, the FCP candidate could, at a minimum, talk to the local press and/or appear at candidate nights if any group sponsors them.
  • Nothing in the plan precludes running a full-blast campaign to win. It’s just not contingent on that.

    Tactically, that’s it. That’s the plan. This requires some money and some effort, and ballot requirements vary from state to state, but is within practical range. The main requirement after getting on the primary ballot is a willingness to make some phone calls and show up. If the FCP candidate wanted to do more and could do more, that would be excellent. But not required.

    Such is the stuff of change for real – let’s all do what we can to make it happen.

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