Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NECN on African-American Politicians

Around 8:06 I was watching the Braude show on NECN...I wish I had a screen capture. There was a brief story about Obama mocking the closure of DC due to a spot of snow and ice. The title card over the clip read "Deval Dig: Weather in DC" or words to that effect.

Deval Patrick, Barack Obama...with so many African-American politicians running the country, how could NECN possibly tell them apart?

What's Recession-Proof? Charter Schools Spending!

Whoo boy, times are rough. Lots of cutting these days over on Beacon Hill, and education certainly isn't immune as far as next year's budget goes. One of the most promising ideas is extended learning time, which opens up enrichment possibilities and offers support to at-risk students. That's been cut, as has been afterschool programs in general. The understaffed bureaucracy will have fewer people answering the calls of people flummoxed by its byzantine ways, and Chapter 70 Payments are held level despite the growing student body, and growing demands on education systems.

I will give the Governor credit for requesting raised spending (or at least breaking out of the line item) some priorities that mean a lot to me, starting with gifted programs and dropout prevention. However, if there's one thing that jumps out at it me, not too far from the headline reading "Patrick proposes taxes, cuts":

Governor Deval Patrick, who has consistently opposed raising the cap on the number of charter schools, will dramatically change course in the budget he releases today, allowing for more charters in low-performing districts as long as these new schools try to help the most vulnerable students.

So the hits keep on coming! While slashing school budgets on one hand, Deval is opening the field further into the "Make Your Own Skool" Industry. If you want to make a pretend school by, say, renting space from the Y, go ahead. That'll teach those horribly underfunded schools to be legally bound by special-education laws!

In case you're wondering where you last heard about charter schools, it was here:

The board voted, 6-2, to revoke the charter on June 30. The vote followed a recommendation last month by Mitchell Chester, state commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, who said he was deeply disturbed by the lack of academic progress at the middle school. It was the second time in two years that a commissioner had recommended closing the school.

I like the last sentence in that paragraph. I guess in DevalWorld, your charter school has to really, really suck before it is closed. Because who in their right mind would want to send their kid into the Massachusetts public schools, that are pretty much equal to any system in the world according to international tests that skew against American schools?

See, in DevalWorld, it's always the time to push charter schools.

PS: If you're looking for "radically raise the number of charter schools in Massachusetts" in Deval's hyped "Readiness Report", you won't find it. Apparently the specialists who wrote this report failed to come up with the right answer, or like most people in the Commonwealth, Deval hasn't bothered to read it either.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Inauguration Video

I have managed to edit together a 10-minute splice of the video, audio, and photographs I could record during my trip to Washington, DC for the Inauguration.

Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties, but I still offer this for anyone interested. You won't see me, but you will hear me...

PS: Roberts. What a putz.

Updated: Link fix.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not a good moment

Small bitter churlishness can be a killer in politics. It puts out the media, possible and probably allies, and makes you look small. And Deval looks really, really small right here:

At one point, the governor had a frosty exchange with Worcester Mayor Konstantina B. Lukes, after she appeared to smirk while the governor answered her question.

"Before you make a face, mayor, let me finish my answer, all right?" Patrick snapped.

Once he finished his response, he glanced over at her again and said, "Is that clear? OK. Now you can make your face."

That's Bush-League crap, governor. You're jiggling numbers on a spreadsheet when you're not firing mental health counselors the day you're out of state playing Obama FanBoy. Lukes is trying to run a city on surprise cuts and will be deciding who gets the ax. He feels the pain much closer to you. He has a right to do much more than make a face, so shape up unless you want to be sneering at Lottery Tim's across a debate stage next year.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Oh sure

The one day I get decent exposure (courtesy of a snarky comment on BMG that got picked up by Ezra Klein) and I haven't updated my blog in a while.

Because I was at the Inauguration, and am still recovering. I'm hoping to have a video diary edited by Sunday night with some video I took.

Anyway, allow me to offer the following for those who have stopped by here:

  • It took Paterson a while to get it done, but he got it right. I like Gillibrand for Senator. She's earned everything she's gotten so far, and she's tough yet progressive. Here's hoping for a tough 2010 Primary that she wins.

  • Ellen is the fifth Cylon? Are you frakking kidding me? I wanted a shocking revelation (I was hoping it would be the Galactica itself), not some treacly memory to make an old man happy. If tonight's episode is similarly sucky -- or doesn't produce a deus ex machina on this one -- I'm gonna be really bummed out, man.

  • I think Obama took an easy way out when he pushed Richardson to withdraw his nomination. Republicans will investigate any Democrat at any moment, no reason needed. Prove you'll stand by your people.

  • Tim Kaine better walk the walk on the 50-state strategy, not least of all because the states gaining seats in the 2010 Census generally are not covered by the McAuliffe/Kerry 17-state strategy.

  • I have yet to talk to somebody who is not worried about an assassination attempt on Obama every time he goes into the open.

  • So Speaker Sal DiMasi is going to resign soon. Probably the least corrupt Speaker in my lifetime, and the most progressive. What do these people want?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Anti-democracy in Israel

No, it's not about Gaza. I'm staying out of that question.

But banning political parties is just wrong and a slap in the face to democracy anywhere. There's no two ways about it, it's wrong:

The Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta'al and Balad from running in next month's parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Both parties intend to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

Members of the CEC conceded yesterday that the chance of the Supreme Court's upholding the ban on both parties was slim.


The requests to ban the Arab parties were filed by two ultra right parties Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union-National Religious Party.

Senior Labor Party figures lashed out at the party's CEC representative, Eitan Cabel, who voted in favor of banning the two Arab parties.

A couple thoughts:
  • Hopefully, the Supreme Court overturns this, but until then, does that mean the cops get to "confiscate" (wreck) all the party's materials?
  • Labor seems awfully disorganized (one would think they could have gotten this one right), which is one reason Kadima has survived the effective loss of its founder, Ariel Sharon. Likud is the only party that seems to know what it's doing on the campaign front.

Mind you, I think this routine is disgusting no matter where it's attempted. Other democracies have sought (Germany) or succeeded (Spain and Belgium) in banning political parties that made the mainstream uncomfortable. This merely pushes the party's supporters outside the political process, where the transition to violence on their part is quicker and easier.

I can't imagine that peace would ever have come to Northern Ireland without Sinn Fein holding a seat at the table throughout, and offering a way inside the system to acquire what so many people were seeking outside the system. I can imagine few things worse than for Israel to silence most of the Arab voices in the Knesset.

Collection o thoughts

  • So Burris is going to be seated. He's got the ego to be Senator, and will probably be a satisfactorily mediocre Senator who will stumble around and avoid being in the room when bad stuff goes down. It will be interesting to see how he is treated by the caucus -- what committee assignments he gets; if he is shut out of anything with potential for homebound bacon, that could be a sign that the Senate Democrats want to leave him open to a challenge in 2010. How much do they kneecap his ability to point to accomplishments should a primary arise?

  • There's irony aplenty in New York when you think of it. Somebody from out of state is leaving her Senate post for a job that wasn't really her goal. A guy who didn't mean to become governor now has to choose between people who probably weren't expecting the chance to become Senator. You may as well spin a wheel at this point.

  • Majority leader Harry Reid frankly came to my attention when he got Jim Jeffords to leave the Republicans and caucus with the Democrats, giving his party control of the Senate for nearly two years. That got me through a lot of bad decisions, and his habit of being outmaneuvered. However, at this point, his abject failure to deliver consequences to Joe Lieberman for his Benedict Arnold act, foolish mishandling of the Burris mess (the appointment was always legal, only because the law moved too slowly to catch up to Blago), and typical spinelessness makes Reid a drag at a time when we need effective, quick change. He does occasionally show some chutzpah, but usually doesn't, and I think his time as Majority Leader should be closing. What's more, his high partisan profile is probably not helping him in his 2010 re-election, what may well become a rough fight. In any case, let him concentrate on his seat, and turn the job over to a Demcorat who knows how to crack heads (in my ideal world, Schumer comes to mind).

  • You know, I live in Barney Frank's district, and I certainly don't see all the pork i'd expect to see from the Chair of the Appropriations Committee. what gives? Where's the Barney Frank highway service area, etc.?

  • Pursuant to my post the other day, I really would like to see every RNC Chair candidate asked the following question: "What are the reasons that lead you to believe Ronald Reagan was a superior president to Abraham Lincoln?"

  • Pension abuse is just one more reason we need an effective opposition party in Massachusetts. Another reason is that without some grownups in charge, whiny conservatives who chose a risky 401k will probably take out their frustration by bankrupting public pensions during a referendum. Half of them believe that the state's fiscal imbalance is entirely due to legislative salaries and teacher health care, anyway.

  • Speaking of pensions, it still amazes me that public employees can lose their pensions if convicted of certain crimes. I mean, if somebody has $50,000 taken out of the paycheck over the years, and are convicted of something, they essentially lose that money. How is that not a large fine?

  • I'm going to the Inauguration. Thasss right, got tickets and the whole deal. I may post some video when I get back. Maybe not. Currently plan to wear a shirt and tie, my town DTC shirt, my Dean Iowa knit cap, and some good boots. Don't know where I'll be going that night, and I'm open to ideas.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

RNC: Reagan better than Lincoln

The classic Republican response to questions about their endorsement of racist candidates (David Duke, Chip Saltsman, Florida Republicans to start) and policies is that they are the "party of Lincoln". That's right...what happened 150 years ago excuses the last 50 years of the Southern Strategy.

So all six would-be chairs of the RNC were asked to name the greatest Republican president in history during a recent debate. Wanna guess how many said Abraham Lincoln?


They all said Ronald Reagan. All six think Reagan was a superior president to Abraham Lincoln.

So in the waning days of George W Bush, we ask a question of these would-be RNC Chairs that we've so often asked about the president -- are these guys malicious, or just incompetent?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Deval but not Dean in DC. Why?

Why did our governor have to go to suburban Washington, DC to watch Obama give a speech today? I guess the thought is some buddy-buddy lobbying before or after the speech might help out the Bay State, but that seems like a pittance in return from running away from the state for a couple of days. Not as if Massachusetts is running along fine, anyway -- Deval just kneecapped the State Department of Mental Health, and he doesn't even have the cojones to be in state when it happens. Hopefully Patrick has a good jumpshot.

And why isn't Dean in Washington, DC? Check this:

Obama said Dean served his party and the nation as a "visionary and effective leader," and made Democrats competitive in states where they hadn't competed in years.

But Dean wasn't on hand for the president-elect's visit to party headquarters, traveling instead in American Samoa. Democrats with knowledge of the situation said Dean, who clashed with Obama aides and Democratic leaders in Congress, had been asked by Obama advisers not to attend.

I thought everyone liked success. And Dean's stewardship of the Democratic National Committee has been an unqualified success. Sure, give Obama credit for winning in North Carolina or Virginia in 2008. Sure, conditions made for favorable ground in 2006 and 2008, and yes we put up some really good candidates. But if you get to the point of having Democratic Senators in Alaska and North Carolina as well as Montana; winning electoral votes in Omaha, and a Democratic class in the House larger than the 1994 "Republican Revolution", we all know Dean's role in that. Even Chris Matthews gets it:

I realize Obama has a lot of pride, but the fact that Dean isn't high up in his cabinet in a disappointment. The fact that Dean is no longer DNC chair (in favor of an anti-choice, anti-equality part-timer) is sad. The fact that Obama and his people are so hostile to the guy who did so much to get him there is just pathetic.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Favorite New Year's Memory

Something rather far afield from politics, but definitely my favorite memory from New Years' Eve or Day.

His name was Kyle. I can tell you four things I learned in the first few hours of 2003 about Kyle:
  • While slapping his back, his friend loudly declared him to be "the pride of Nouwth Quincy".
  • Kyle was a heavyset 17-year old.
  • Kyle wads very excited about the New Year.
  • Kyle was also very, very drunk.

We met Kyle in Copley station on the Green Line as we waited to return home from First Night. He was easy to pick out because he was waving around his shirt, bellowing "Yankees Suck!". As it was before 2004, this chant definitely struck a chord with his fellow Bostonians, and soon the station was echoing with raucous chants of "Yankees Suck."

(Which all confused by two Canadian visitors, who needed explaining that we were not hating our own Americanness, but rather the baseball team.)

Kyle got off with us and several other people at Park Street to await the red line. This is when Kyle proceeded to do something awfully enjoyable: he decided to wish each person on the platform a "Happy Noo Yeahs". Individually. Several times. I myself shook his hand three times as he innocently shambled the length of the platform, back and forth, until the train arrived. I saw him at one point approach a group of travelers with the words "Now, who heah has not yet wished me a happy noo yeahs?".

And the encounter that I would love to have videotaped. A clash of cultures not far off from Columbus's first meeting with the Taino. Kyle came up to a girl just about his age who had invested seriously in the image of "I hate the world and everything in it, which is all phoney anyway". Combat boots. Camoflage miniskirt. Several layers of mascara and a punding set of earphones. But Kyle would not be dissuaded, and with a sweet hurt in his voice, he persisted in attempting to share his joy at the new year until finally the young lady acquiesced to exchange greetings.

By the time we approached Nowth Quincy, Kyle was asleep.

I write this not to make fun of Kyle. In all likelihood, he's the type of hard-working, hard-playing guy who makes Boston such a great city, such an honest city.. It was certainly the most authentic slice of Boston I have ever offered by friends, and every year we take time out to remember Kyle as we wish each other greetings for the new year.

So to you and yours, Happy Noo Yeahs.