Thursday, June 10, 2010

Current Group Photo

I've uploaded the current group photo...for any and all who want it. Back row (left to right): Erin Daly, Vince Lombardo, Chris Nicholson, Rich Taylor, Joe Arico, Eric Stefan, Jeanette Young, Dan Honigfort, Claire Sokas; Front row (left to right): Matt Wilson, Lionel Nicolas, Grace Park.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Education Watch: what might turn me into an Obama voter

This article about President Obama and Arne Duncan's efforts to reform schools and labor relations has me thinking good thoughts:
More significant, Duncan has said that some of the billions in more traditional annual federal aid that has flowed to states according to population formulas should now be based on Racelike competitions aimed at various pieces of the reform agenda. “This is the chance of a lifetime,” Duncan says. “We have to move the country in a fundamental, dramatic way.”

In a Congress controlled by Democrats, that could be a struggle. When Duncan’s testimony broached the broader idea at a March Congressional hearing, the House Appropriations Committee chairman, David Obey, a Democratic representative from Wisconsin — which finished 26th out of 41 entrants in the first round of the Race — reminded Duncan of the states’ dire need for basic funds and signaled his skepticism about the Race reforms, declaring, “When the sailboat is sinking, my top priority would not be to put a new coat of varnish on the deck.” (Obey recently announced he will retire next year, perhaps making Duncan’s reform path easier.)

“Every Democrat knows the president really cares about this,” Schnur says. Which suggests that the Nixon-to-China dynamic that prevailed in states like Tennessee may work in Washington. Obama could most likely get some, probably many, Democratic votes, while winning support from Republicans on an issue they have championed so strongly in the past that taking a flat-out anti-Obama approach would be especially awkward.

“That President Obama did this is a total game changer,” says Pastorek, the Louisiana schools superintendent, who is a Republican working for a Republican governor, Bobby Jindal. “If he really sticks to this, education will never be the same.”
I was wrong -- on this, the President seems to be pursuing this as hard as he can. If there is one thing that he can change in this country for the better, and if there is one thing that will push me into being an Obama voter, it will be if he succeeds in forcing long-term public school reform in this country.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Bad politics makes worse policy

I've really refrained from any comment on the oil spill situation because I don't really know what to say about it. That said, I listened to this conversation between an NPR host and USEPA administrator Lisa Jackson with some amount of irritation:
"NORRIS: The United States is a nation that gets things done. It's a can-do nation. That can-do attitude is an important part of the national psyche. But this so far is a problem that the government can't fix, at least not anytime soon. Help us understand why this should not shake the faith of people in their government?

Ms. JACKSON: The most important thing here is to realize the president's personal commitment. He said again today that, you know, we are here and we're not going anywhere. That we realize that even if and when the flow of oil is finally stopped, this recovery, this response and recovery is going to be a long-term thing and requires a long-term commitment. He said that over and over.

I do think that, you know, just in terms of the psyche of this region being from here, part of the anger that is so palpable - and I have it myself - is that that frustration of watching something this catastrophic that we cannot - none of us can do anything about."
Let's ignore that Jackson doesn't even begin to answer an interesting (if off topic) question. Rather, I'm really frustrated with Jackson's near-rote repeating of the day's talking points: Barack Obama really, REALLY cares and isn't going to leave you or forsake you.

I don't give a crap if the president can emote. I really don't. I feel rather sorry that Reagan, Clinton and Bush 43 pushed this idea that you have to think that the President gets you and your concerns and really, REALLY cares. I want President Obama to solve problems; right now, the problems/answers are all at the technical level and the funding/politics is a couple months away.In recent language, in other words, the President isn't Aquaman and can't do much for the situation other than keep repeating that BP is going to get the bill.

What can he do? Quit ignoring Asia. This is the second time he's cancelled a trip to Asia to deal with pressure that "he doesn't care enough" or whatever baloney the political media is pushing for the day. It's time for them (and the President) to realize that the long-term problems of the country should take precedence over the P.R. crisis of the moment.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A quiet thank you.

Had pressure? Sure you have.

Think about the pressure there must be on the field-level guys at BP, Schlumberger, Transocean (and yes) Halliburton. The guys actually trying to stop this thing? The guys you laughed at when they tried to execute the 'junk shot' and the 'top kill'? The folks working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to drill that relief well?

Yeah, those guys, those folks deserve our absolute thanks. BP senior-level executives? They're the same suits you get at every big company. But the guys (and gals) on the oil rigs, boats and derricks? Those people are heroes, in my book.

So thanks, folks.

(Had pressure? No, that's pressure.)