A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, September 29, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 128: Hole In the Wall edition

C'mon. You knew it was coming.

Quotes in the comments section, while we honor someone who made a difference, and not just by entertaining us.

And if you haven't seen one of this man's movies in a while, you have a task for the next weekend.

"You know, when I was a kid, I always thought I'd grow up to be a hero."
"Well, it's too late now."
"What'd you say that for? You didn't have to say something like that!"

"Do you know what you're doing?"

"Kid, the next time I say, 'Let's go someplace like Bolivia,' let's GO someplace like Bolivia!"

"No, Baltimore works out of Oklahoma. He's strictly an Oklahoma man. I don't know where we are, but it sure as Hell isn't Oklahoma. No, it couldn't be him. Couldn't be him. "

"I'm 26, and I'm single, and a school teacher, and that's the bottom of the pit. And the only excitement I've known is here with me now. I'll go with you, and I won't whine, and I'll sew your socks, and I'll stitch you when you're wounded, and I'll do anything you ask of me except one thing. I won't watch you die. I'll miss that scene if you don't mind."

Weekend Update: yes, Raindrops keep falling on my head because of


Funny! And have there eer been two more gorgeous co-stars?

Thanks, Paul. God bless.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

No kidding.

Here's news: it's hard to keep superintendents in urban settings.


The story:
St. Louis is looking for its eighth school superintendent since 2003. Kansas City is on its 25th superintendent in 39 years.

Despite good salaries and plenty of perks, a recent study found that the average urban superintendent nationwide stays on the job only about three years — which educators say isn't enough time to enact meaningful, long-lasting reform.

"Would you buy Coca-Cola if they changed CEOs every year?" asked Diana Bourisaw, who left as St. Louis superintendent in July after two years in the top job. "The answer is no. I wouldn't."

On Friday, Kelvin Adams signed a three-year contract with the St. Louis district worth $225,000 annually plus bonus incentives, a day after his hiring was approved by a state-appointed board that oversees the district.

Adams figures he can buck the trend of superintendent turnover.

"I am absolutely focused on one thing — student achievement," Adams said.

Academic accountability is the new national mantra in public education, and low-performing districts are placing high salaries and higher demands on their superintendents — who find themselves caught between factions of publicly elected school boards, teachers' unions and parent groups.

"I consider that to be the toughest job in America," said Dan Domenech, executive director of the Arlington, Va.-based American Association of School Administrators.

The school board in Kansas City has gained a reputation for micromanaging the district and end-running its own superintendent even as test scores languish year after year.

One school board member abruptly quit this past week, and in a resignation letter scolded her colleagues for not doing enough to address the district's accreditation problems and their "continued demonstrations of micromanagement and defensive posturing."

"This is clearly not a board that is interested in reforming its practices to achieve strong educational outcomes for our students," said board member Ingrid Burnett, "and I can no longer justify my involvement to myself or to my constituents."

Even superintendents with strong track records aren't safe. Rudy Crew, honored by his peers for improving schools in Florida's Miami-Dade County, was effectively fired by his board this month when the remainder of his contract was bought out.

Critics said he mismanaged the budget and didn't build ties with communities. He was there four years.

The 2006 study by the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of some of the nation's largest urban public school systems, reported an average salary of $208,000 among the nearly 60 urban districts it examined. More than half of those superintendents got a car or mileage allowance, more than one-third got financial bonuses, and 2 percent received a housing allowance.

Yet it's not unheard of for a big-city opening to draw only a few dozen candidates — a testament, experts say, to the job's professional and political demands. Thirty-five people applied for the St. Louis job.

"With all the challenges they're facing, they're looking for somebody who can walk on water," said Stan Paz, a former superintendent in Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas, and now vice president of McGraw-Hill Education's urban advisory resource team.

Atlanta went through five superintendents in 10 years before Barbara Hall arrived in 1999, said school board member Katy Pattillo. She feels the district has made significant academic progress since Hall's arrival.

Pattillo said the Atlanta school board attended "governance training" to better define the roles of people involved in education and improve communication. Atlanta also worked to get community and business support for the district of 50,000 students and its leadership. Hall now boasts of academic gains every year since 2000.

In St. Louis, Adams — a first-time superintendent arriving from New Orleans, where he was chief of staff of the Recovery School District — takes over a district that hasn't been as fortunate.

Urban flight to the suburbs has plagued St. Louis since the 1950s. The population, more than 850,000 in 1950, is now about 350,000 — a loss of tax base that one superintendent after another has struggled to overcome.

The situation got so bad that last year that the Missouri Board of Education stripped the district of accreditation, saying it came up short academically and financially.

A three-member board was appointed last year to oversee the district. But the locally elected school board remains in place and its members are vocal, though largely powerless, and often second-guess the state panel's moves.

Bourisaw was hired in 2006 by the elected board. When the state-appointed board took over, members decided that with the new oversight the job should be advertised. Bourisaw was encouraged to reapply but declined.

Bourisaw said urban districts often face issues like poverty, immigration, frequently moving or homeless students and safety concerns that extend beyond education.

"I don't believe the quality of children's education should be determined by the ZIP code they live in," she said.

"School boards like to hire someone to come in and rescue the district, and one person can't do that."

After a decade in St. Louis, Lori and Eric Peterson and their children are moving to the suburbs because they feel the school district has let them down.

Already this school year, fourth-grader Isabella has once arrived home an hour late because the fill-in bus driver didn't know the route. Third-grader Zain is worried his grade may still be split into smaller groups, potentially taking him away from classmates he began the school year with.

Lori Peterson said she has complained, but to no avail.

"Do we stay and try to prove a point that we're 'city' people?'" she asked. "Or do we leave because that's in the best interest of our children?"

Let me answer that last question for you, Mrs. Peterson: You run like hell. And by the way, the second you change your residence from a city zip code, your car insurance will drop like a moose in the sights of Sarah Palin.

Let's remember that St. Louis is a school district which has had a board president whose children attended a nearby school district in a tonier part of the metro area and another board member who claimed that someone had spiked her soda pop with cocaine and who tried to place hexes on those she considered her enemy. My hand on my heart. You can't make stuff like that up. And this new oversight board appointed by the governor of Missouri consists of people with very little first hand knowledge of public schools. Not surprisingly, the head of the special board is a housing developer who sent his kids to parochial and Catholic schools and who lives waaaaay out in the 'burbs.

Kansas City schools were infamous for building gigantic marble entryways and Olympic-sized indoor pools yet still being unable to stem white flight or to draw suburban kids to their magnet schools. Omaha schools famously tried to redistrict along racial lines. Tulsa Public Schools just fired a superintendent who was an authoritarian jerk out of touch with the needs of the people who lived in the district, which encompassed both urban pockets of poverty and suburban upper-middle class Beemer- drivers.

In my opinion, most superintendents (and most principals) need to focus on instructional needs first, last, and always. They need to work in partnership with, not in opposition to, the people in the trenches doing the teaching and the learning. They should have a minimum of ten years' teaching experience, and five years as a head principal under their belts.

But, hey, what do I know? I've just spent nearly forty years of my life in school in some fashion.

Jeez, now I'm depressed.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

When the legends die, the stories live on

Legendary actor and philanthropist Paul Newman passed away today at the age of 83.

Mr. Newman's career spanned six decades, and the roles for which he will be long remembered are seminal antiheroes in drama and comedy, such as John Rooney in The Road to Perdition, Henry Gondorff in The Sting, the title role in Cool Hand Luke, and Brick Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Besides his work in film and on stage, his food company, Newman's Own, has donated over 200 million dollars to various charities, since its founding in 1982. 

He was a beautiful man, inside and out. Rest in peace, Paul.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 127: what not to wear edition

Movie Madness Monday comes back atcha with a film I thought I would have absolutely no interest in whatsoever,being a girl who is much more comfy in jeans, sardonic t-shirt, and running shoes, but, then again, you just never know.

So put your quotes in the comments section!

"I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight."

"You sold your soul to the devil when you put on your first pair of Jimmy Choos-- I saw it."

"Don't make me feed you to one of the models."

"Je suis tres, tres desole...."
"You're not that desole at all."

"Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking."

And go. And try not to look in a three way mirror while you do it.

And was Anne ever so cute as in this one, where she is tormented by the knowledge that


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Here's a lesson plan for Constitution Day....

One of my students, in the midst of a discussion about the constitutional right guaranteed those accused of a crime, asked what the difference was between John Walker Lindh and Jose Padilla, given the vastly different way that they were treated.

Good question. That's a thoughtful question.

Today is the 221st birthday of the US Constitution. I would have taught about it EVEN IF Sen. Byrd hadn't mandated it legally. 

Let's see our leaders really try to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How serious are we about improving public schools?

I was reading the latest put forward by the respective presidential campaigns about what they would do to improve public schools.

Barack Obama want to increase federal money for charter schools, while McCain supports charter schools but also trumpets No Child Left Behind.

I have some humble ideas about how to improve public schools.

To be blunt, I worry about the educational quality provided to the six kids sitting adjacent to one child (who is expected to do about 1/10 of the work load) who has a melt down and moans and wails and disturbs the other students and the teacher in a crowded classroom of 27. This child expects to receive an A in this class, and her IEP basically mandates it. The other kids in the room, the kids who strain to hear the teacher, aren't so lucky. Frankly, they will be the ones going out and contributing the taxes that will support the sheltered workshop that the child with an "A" will land in for his working career, and they will do it after enduring a school career filled with similar experiments in socialization. To be completely blunt, the parents of the kids who have figured out this serious disconnect in education will push their average children into honors classes merely as a way to be in a classroom without such distractions, thereby inflating the number of honors classes and decreasing the standards and expectations that can be maintained at that level. In such a system, in the end, standards don't exist for anybody. Socialization is a wonderful thing. But is that the purpose of a school?

I worry about the educational quality provided to students who have to deal with the tall kid with impulse-control issues who hurls himself at other students in the hallways before and after classes. Some of them choose not to stay after school because that means that they will have to endure the unpredicatable behavior of this student, who has apparently cowed the assistant principal who is reluctant to give him appropriate consequences and allows him to return again and again to the hallowed halls of academe. Keeping kids in school is a wonderful thing. But if the only reasons this kid is in school is to laugh with his friends and intimidate other kids (and apparently, some adults) and do his parent and his neighborhood a favor by keeping him off the street, are those the real purposes of school?

There once was an assistant principal I knew who defended a field trip to a ski area with the statement: "The purpose of school is to supply children with new experiences that they would not otherwise have." I agree: and let's start with the experience of making school time about learning, about having the opportunity to become familiar with ideas about chemistry and history and coherent expression and algebra, not about sussing the slopes or eating Mexican food as a pretext for trying out our Spanish on school time. "Quisiera un burrito con arroz, por favor," is not really as vital a communication as learning how to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez, after all. Is learning how to amuse a waiter at El Campesino Mexican Cantina an adequate use of school resources?

And so it goes. Every time we confuse the message of a school as a place where hard work goes in to crafting an education, we seem to simultaneously bemoan the lack of success of public schools. But when school has become a place to get two meals a day, to hang out instead of being on the streets, to see your social worker, to access counseling, to play football-- in short, a place to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING but actually be expected to attempt to learn, you can talk about standards and accountability until the sun rises in the west, and all you will do is make it impossible for schools to actually educate the students who actually are interested in attempting to learn and you will drive out the dedicated teachers who foolishly believed that their first priority in the classroom would be to inspire students and encourage the attainment of knowledge.

When the concept of "education is a right" has effectively evolved into a belief in the right of those who have no intention or possibly capability to actually apply themselves to learning to change the tenor and mission of the school, then we are willfully blind if we do not see the disconnect here. Rather than enforcing some basic accountability of students to come to school for the purpose of learning, our politicians talk about how public schools are failing without realizing that their unfunded mandates and misunderstanding of the basic purpose of schools stand at the root of the problem. And if we claim that a subgroup has an achievement gap in education because the whole idea of school "just doesn't make sense to us," as I listened to one overpriced consultant explain to an auditorium full of educators, then is the answer to make school comprehensible by making school not about learning but about socializing?

Could there be a time when the world does not owe people a place to hang out? Could there be paradigm shift that the root of education is learning how to change yourself rather than expecting the world to change to accommodate you?

If you want to make schools more successful at educating, let us make education our priority.

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Tina Fey has now joined my pantheon of female comedic geniuses

I mean, Mean Girls really did it for me, but this? Oh. My. God. And Amy Pohler does her usual manful job doing Hillary Clinton.

And Meanie NBC has now stripped the complete clip from YouTube. Listen, NBC, you do WANT to build your viewership over the next few weeks leading up to the election, right? 

Killjoys. Jerks.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Never say die...

Antioch College's faculty may be down, but they're not out, and they refuse to take the temporary shuttering of the school on the chin:
YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio - In a wood-paneled basement filled with boxes of nuts, bolts and screws, a college journalism class is under way.

Naked wooden beams and ductwork hang overhead. The instructor's voice competes with the sound of the furnace, which kicks on from time to time.

This makeshift classroom is part of a patchwork of homes, churches and offices cobbled together to form the "Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute," spawned by former professors of Antioch College, which closed temporarily earlier this year amid financial problems.

Professors launched the institute this week to preserve the school's spirit and maintain its core of teachers.

"We want to keep the DNA alive," said Scott Warren, former associate professor of philosophy. "We want to keep the soul moving until we get the campus back."

Classes are being held just about anywhere in southwest Ohio, including a Buddhist meditation center and an office above a mattress store.

The institute, funded by Antioch alumni, has attracted about 60 students in its first semester, Warren said. Its pupils range from former Antioch College students to local villagers, including an 87-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man.

Its staff includes about 20 former Antioch College teachers, plus a handful of retired Antioch teachers and instructors from nearby colleges who have volunteered to teach for free.

The Yellow Springs institute is unaccredited and is not affiliated with Antioch.

Former Antioch College student Molly Thornton was planning to transfer to another school, but got caught up in the Antioch alumni's excitement about the institute this summer.

"I said 'Oh, this is really going to happen,'" recalled Thornton, 20, of Santa Fe, N.M. "My plan is to stay here indefinitely."

Tuition costs $1,500 per semester, and students must make their own living arrangements and provide their own meals.

Located about 15 miles east of Dayton, Antioch College is known for its pioneering academic programs that produce students with a passion for free thinking and social activism. The college is the flagship of Antioch University, which also has campuses in Seattle, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Calif., and Keene, N.H.

Trustees say they want the college to reopen as soon as possible, and they have asked alumni to propose a plan in which the college would operate independently of the university.

Toni Murdock, chancellor of Antioch University, has said she applauds the passion of the group, but questions whether courses taken at the institute can be applied toward graduation at other schools. Warren said the institute is seeking accreditation and believes that many colleges will give students credit for coursework they complete at the institute.

"It's not bad," said Derrick Lane, 20, of Cleveland, who attended Antioch College for two years. He said the institute has the same ideals as the college and many of the same teachers.

"I'm so liking the Antioch stuff that transferring somewhere else would be a major culture shock," he said.

Classes offered at the institute include such courses as "Revolutions: Theory and Practice," "The Art of Political Discourse: Critical Thinking," and "Visions of Suburbia."

"We're homeless," said Dennie Eagleson, who taught at Antioch College for 20 years and now teaches photography at the institute. "What we've tried to do is detach ourselves from that struggle — which was really heartbreaking and hard — into something we have control over."

As some who actually READ Cervantes (although not in Spanish), let me say: you just gotta admire people willing to tilt at windmills....


Never say "Diet"

Quick update, for those interested (Hi, Mom, the tumor is getting smaller, and for those of you who now are worried about me and haven't kept up, read this before panicking):

Miles ridden since June 22: 783.
New pants purchased due to the new dress code at work and not wanting to be a sagger: 6.
Pounds temporarily reassigned and hopefully terminated: 20.
Pull-ups accomplished at the whim of sweet personal trainer's sudden dark side: 10 (And, really, WTH???).
Really cool "Livestrong" biking outfit that I never would have worn before because it would make people that that atom smasher under Switzerland had actually caused black holes to blossom thereby bringing about the end of the world (and it was 70% off!): 1.

Although, you know, work certainly cuts into one's cycling time....

Queen was right-- we do make the rockin' world go round.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh Give Me Land, Lots of Land (without any filthy critters to ugly up the place....)

What. A. Moron.

And an effete moron, at that.

Proving once again that money and common sense all too rarely cohabit in the same body, we get this gem from Colorado:
Keep your bison off my property or risk having them hunted, software executive Jeff Hawn warned his neighbor outside this old Colorado mining town. In a lawsuit he said the animals knocked his satellite television dishes off line and left dung, tracks and hair on "pristine pasture on rolling hills."

Nine days after the suit was filed, shots rang out. The remains of 32 bison were strewn across Hawn's property and nearby land. Deputies learned that 14 hunters received a letter from Hawn giving them permission to hunt bison on his property.

Now Hawn — the president and CEO of Seattle-based Attachmate who lives in Austin, Texas — finds himself in criminal court, charged with theft and 32 counts of aggravated animal cruelty following the March shootings.

The case has outraged many in Fairplay, a town of about 700 in the central Colorado plains founded by gold prospectors in 1859. It's also drawn attention to Colorado's "open range" laws.

Hawn has waived his right to a preliminary hearing to see if there's enough evidence for the case to proceed, asking instead to skip to a hearing to enter a plea, Park County court clerk Debbie McLimans said Friday. That hearing has not been scheduled. Hawn didn't respond to two messages left by The Associated Press on his cell phone or another left with a spokeswoman at Attachmate.

One of Hawn's defense attorneys, Pamela Mackey, didn't return phone calls or an e-mail seeking comment, while another, Steve Csajaghy, told the AP he couldn't discuss the case. But Csajaghy told the Rocky Mountain News in March that Hawn "had no other choice" but to get rid of the bison to protect himself.

In his Feb. 25 letter inviting the hunters, Hawn said they could hunt animals on his property or remove them live. Investigators believe Hawn may have shot some himself.

According to court documents, 10 of the carcasses were in plain view of his house and some of the bullets they recovered were similar to test rounds fired from a rifle found inside the home.

It's hard to find anyone sympathetic to Hawn in South Park. Downare's family is well-established, and people in Fairplay, the county seat, and tiny Hartsel, the closest town to his ranch, are quick to defend him. They bemoan the waste of so much bison meat and talk about one of the feud's central issues — fences.

Miles of barbed-wire fences line area roads and property boundaries. Unlike rural areas in other parts of the country, Colorado and most other Western states are "open range," meaning livestock can roam wherever they wish. If land owners don't want animals on their property they are urged to build a fence to keep them out. Ranchers don't have to fence their animals.

Given the state's population growth and traffic, Colorado brand commissioner Rich Wahlert, who works to prevent livestock theft and regulates stray livestock, said most ranchers still try to fence their livestock.

Because buffalo are stouter than cattle, he said, they can break through the minimal three-barbed-wire fencing required by Colorado law. Many buffalo producers build taller, stronger fences to keep animals in even though it isn't required.

Wahlert said livestock are bound to escape from any kind of fence and that Downare has a good track record of responding quickly to calls of stray buffalo, which can weigh a ton and jump six feet.

In the civil suit Hawn filed on March 10, he said his barbed-wire fences were sturdy and similar to others in Park County. The suit seeks payment for damage caused by Downare's buffalo.

Hawn said the bison knocked his satellite television dishes offline and left dung, tracks and hair on his land. He included as evidence a photograph of three bison walking past his deck.

Investigators say Hawn initially paid one hunter $2,000 to build corrals to capture and remove the buffalo live. When the hunter asked for more money, Hawn allegedly said that if the bison weren't removed in one week he would invite paying hunters to kill the animals. Ranches that raise buffalo for meat sometimes allow people to hunt them for about $2,000 a head.

Downare, in a victim impact statement, said Hawn's invitation to the hunters was crazy. When asked on the form if he would like any special conditions imposed on Hawn, besides paying for the lost bison, valued at $77,000, Downare wrote: "I would like him to fence his property good and leave my livestock alone."

Downare didn't return two phone messages seeking comment, and District Attorney Molly Chilson said she couldn't discuss the case in advance of the hearing.

The bison were killed during a harsh winter. Area resident Cindi Raymer noted that roaming animals were a given, considering that snow covered many fences.

Raymer had a simple answer about whether the area can keep its open range designation, given its influx of retirees and second-home owners.

"Just fence the people out," she said with a laugh.

Listen, Dude (and I mean that), it's nature that you're living in, not the Upper West Side of Manhattan. And your fit of the vapors over buffalo leaving hair all over your yuppified little lawn and knocking your satellite dish over are just too much, not to mention your lack of gratitude at the free fuel the roaming buffalo left behind.

I mean, it's like imagining one of those guys from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy standing on your deck and shrieking, "Ohmigawd! Is that an ANIMAL???? Oh, no, no, no, their hides clash ever so terribly with the sunset and the scenery!"

I thought Seattle and Austin bred men made of sterner stuff. They ARE both in the West, after all. Oh, wait, I did forget about this fine specimen of manliness:

And here I thought that was just a fictional character.

Living in a "Free Range" state means occasionally laying your eyes on some livestock. Get over it, or move somewhere else.

If you're not careful, Mr. Hawn, you'll find yourself being played by Christopher Guest in a mockumentary, fella.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not really in a jock-ular mood at this point.

Our principal assured us that being a supporter of the teachers at our school was the primary job of a principal.


In the paraphrased yet immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "I do not think that word means what the principal THINKS it means."

I do not think it means saying, "We want to treat you like professionals, but...." and then finishing that sentence with anything at all except "you are doing such an outstanding job given all the things that didn't go right at the beginning of the year that the word 'professional' doesn't even begin to cover it."

You know, I've said it before and I'll say it again: Pbbbbbbbttttthhhh.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

If I were Obama, here's what I would say to Senator McCain

Well, I just got finished watching the minuscule portion of the Republican convention that was televised this week. I was awakened from the couch after the convention was over by a big storm that rolled in. I thought it was the leftovers of Hurricane Gustav working its way inland-- until I realized that the wind that kicked up was the collective sigh of relief issuing from St. Paul after the Republicans figured out how to keep George Bush and Dick Cheney out of the convention without having to admit how much embarassment their presence would have caused. I'm still not sure putting Dick Cheney half a world away in Asia until the convention closed down was really enough of a safety margin, however.

So I drifted back to sleep, and had an interesting dream. I dreamt of Barack Obama responding specifically to Senator McCain's speech accepting the nomination. I dreamt that Senator Obama gave the following response:

"Good evening, my fellow Americans. I want to congratulate Senator McCain for his nomination by the Republican party. Senator McCain is a great American who has always served our country with honor, and it will be a privilege to strive with him in our shared dream of a changed government. Senator McCain says he respects and admires me, and celebrates that we are fellow Americans. He also acknowledges that Americans want us to stop yelling at each other. I absolutely agree with him that Americans are hungry for real debate not based on fear but on hope. I am pleased that Senator McCain has joined me in calling for change.

"And change certainly is necessary. I find it interesting that the nominated candidate of the party that has administered the policies of Washington from the White House for 28 of the last 40 years trumpeted the word “change” ten times in his speech. I want to thank Senator McCain and agree with him that yes, there apparently IS something upon which we agree. Where we disagree is who offers 'Change We Can Believe In.'

"Can we believe the promises to change Washington from someone who has been a member of the Beltway since 1983—for a quarter of a century?

"Senator McCain promises to cut government spending. However, in the last 8 years, government spending at all levels has dramatically increased each and every year, from 3.4 trillion dollars to 5.1 trillion dollars, and at this pace, we can anticipate that figure being at least 5.4 trillion dollars by 2010. TRILLION dollars! Now even for those rich folk designated by Senator McCain as those earning more than 5 million dollars a year, that is a mind-boggling figure. Government spending in 2008 is more than TWICE what it was in 1993—the first year of President Clinton’s time in office. Under the policies of George Bush and his Republican party, government spending in the last eight years alone has risen nearly 40 %.

"Now, where have we gotten the money, since the Republicans have not come close to delivering balanced budgets, much less protecting the surpluses that were delivered to them at the end of President Clinton’s term in office? By mortgaging our future and the future of our children to foreign sources. The Chinese have become the mortgage holders to our children’s futures because the Republicans have accelerated government spending while refusing to face the same tough decisions American families face each and every day when looking at their own budgets. American families don’t have the luxury of not balancing their budgets at the end of the day and not facing real consequences. It is time for the government to stop doing the same. We face a tremendous danger to our national security from this runaway Republican spending spree. That’s what the last eight years of Republican politics has brought us. Their profligate spending reduces investment in job creation and has weakened the dollar all around the world, and that’s part of why oil has become so expensive. That’s change all right—but not change that works for America.

"Senator McCain claims that he will cut revenue even further, and that that will create jobs. Yet perhaps President George H. W. Bush said it best when he derided supply-side economics as 'voodoo' economics. How well have all the tax breaks given to corporations and their multi-millionaire executives helped strengthen the economic situation for working Americans? Let’s ask steelworkers from Pennsylvania to Illinois, autoworkers from Michigan to Missouri, construction workers from California to Florida how many jobs have been created for them? And these are the people who literally built America. Negative job growth is change all right—but not change that works for America.

"I want all Americans to have access to health care—at the very least, the same health care that Senator McCain has access to for all of his seventy-two years from his birth as a military dependent to his twenty years as a senator. Senator McCain has been blessed not to have to try to seek health insurance in the private sector. Government-sponsored healthcare has served Senator McCain well. And I believe all Americans deserve the same access as Senator McCain has enjoyed.

"Senator McCain says that his healthcare plan will keep small businesses from cutting jobs and keep people from having to go through a bureaucrat who stands between you and your doctor. I want to explain to Senator McCain that Americans already have bureaucrats that stand between them and their doctors, who tell us which doctors we can see and which drugs we are allowed to take, who tell families which treatments they are allowed to take as they watch their children and mothers and fathers struggle against cancer. Those bureaucrats are the insurance company flunkies who limit care in the quest for spiraling corporate profits, with help from their fellow bureaucrats in the pharmaceutical industry. Because the Republicans tie health insurance to employment, companies already have to limit the jobs they create to try to hold down the costs of insuring their workers. Hard working Americans need access to health care, and right now, 47 million hardworking Americans have no access to health care under the system the Republicans favor, along with their big corporate donors. That’s not change that works for America.

"Senator McCain spoke of allowing everyday Americans to save, spend or invest as they see fit. But Americans who struggle just to keep a roof over their heads as the mortgage crisis deepens and as their jobs head overseas with the blessing of government tax breaks don’t have the luxury of investing or saving. Instead, millions of Americans face losing the only real investment that they have—their homes.

"Senator McCain acknowledged briefly that some Americans are experiencing 'pain' from the current economic situation, while not offering much in the way of a plan to truly change anything. Workers who risk losing their homes and who have lost their health insurance certainly are feeling pain, or, more accurately, personal devastation. They can't afford investments. They can't afford gasoline. They can't afford spiraling health-insurance costs. They can’t afford college or other training when they are already spending their waking hours working to keep their heads above water. Even if they know they need that education, education costs have outstripped government aid and the inflation rate for decades.

"In fact, access to training and higher education has always been vital for a strong economy. The creation of thousands of public high schools at the dawn of the twentieth century helped make America the aresenal of democracy by the start of World War II. The American middle class was created after World War II when millions of American veterans were thanked by the American people through a G.I. Bill that opened the doors of college and vocational training. The G.I. Bill was a magic carpet to the middle class, a middle class that is the backbone and strength of the American people. My administration would support a strengthening of this investment in America through a new G.I. Bill for this generation's heroes. Such a bill has already been passed. What stance did Senator McCain and his president take on this bill?

"Senator McCain chose to go on a fundraising trip rather than be present to vote for a modern G.I. Bill for our returning military heroes—a bill that President Bush then threatened to veto. Senator McCain opposed this bill because he said that it would dissuade servicemen from reenlistment by giving them choices. I believe that our servicemen and servicewomen should have choices about their futures once their enlistments are completed. I believe our veterans deserve health care and treatment when they have been wounded. They deserve more than just verbal thanks. They deserve more than to be paraded for political gain. They have invested their hopes and their dreams in our security. They deserve government investment in their health, educational, and employment needs. We have to place as much investment in their futures in the civilian world as we have in asking for their service. Our country is dedicated to a strong volunteer military, and we shouldn’t treat those who have volunteered as serfs. I believe that we demonstrate our commitment to our veterans not with pins and jewelry on our lapels but with government investment.

"Senator McCain, I also agree with you that education is the civil rights issue of this century, for veterans who have risked everything near the Persian Gulf as well as for children in the US Gulf coast still struggling to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina three years after it wrought its devastation with so little concern from Washington. Education is a civil rights issue for those children whose parents have been unable to buy or keep a home in a good school district. And what makes a school district good? Access to resources. School districts are already subject to forces of competition-- competition for a strong tax base and for adequate funding. What the Republicans’ plans for education won’t do is increase average Americans’ access to quality education for their children, since all the Republican elite want to do is drain more resources from struggling schools that are not blessed with a wealthy tax base. Parents won’t have real educational choice until we make sure that all American schools are adequately funded.

"Yes, Senator McCain, America is a bountiful nation, and we deserve a government that believes that all people should be able to share in that bounty. Republicans like to say that 'government is the problem.' Yet wasn’t it another great American—coincidentally, a Republican—who spoke so stirringly of government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people?' We need to return to that ideal. I wonder why a party that decries government as being so harmful tries so desperately to hang on to control of that same government and the policies that they have created that have left so many on the margins of abundance? The rising tide of wealth has not raised all boats. Too many Americans are standing on the ocean floor as the tide of debt and despair rises ever higher and pulls them ever deeper.

"Government itself, however, is NOT the problem, because I do believe that government should be by, of and for the people, as Abraham Lincoln reminded us. The first duty of government is to safeguard the rights of and opportunities for its citizens-- the rights to be secure in our own homes, the right to demand that government be as willing to provide children with health care as it is to provide military assistance to dictators in Pakistan or the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Republican control of the government, the failed policies that have led to job loss and a damaged standing in the world, that have played the politics of disinformation and of subversion of the very Constitution that they profess to love and defend for the last forty years—THAT is the real problem. My administration would be a government Americans could trust to be truthful. And my administration would truly bring a change in vision, looking forward to a new dawn of hope and change that we can believe in.

"Thank you, my fellow Americans, and may God bless us all. Good night."


Monday, September 01, 2008

Movie Madness Monday 126: freaks and geeks edition

See if you can put your own quote in the comments section without naming the movie. I'm going easy on you because it's the beginning of the school year, and I'm tired.

"You know, there's like a boat-load of gangs at this school. This one gang kept wanting me to join because I'm pretty good with a bow staff."

"After one week with me in my dojo, you'll be prepared to defend yourself with the STRENGTH of a grizzly, the reflexes of a PUMA, and the wisdom of a man."

"Are they still letting you run for president?"
"Yes. I don't understand... they say you're not allowed to have pinatas that look like real people, but in Mexico, we do it all the time."

"Just make yourself a dang quesa-dilluh!"

"And if you vote for me, it will be summer all year round!"

"Sorry I'm late. I just got done taming a wild honeymoon stallion for you guys."

And go! And Happy Labor Day!


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