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Archive for March, 2010

So Much for that Meme

One of the larger “Census Memes” out there is that conservatives are so “anti-government,” that they are not sending in their Census forms.  The idea — pushed heavily by many left-wing websites and blogs because of comments by Reps. Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann — was that “the teabaggers were going to cost themselves in the House” with the loss of seats by an incorrect count.

Most of this is just anecdotal evidence, but its juicy enough that it has been picked up by the mainstream press.

Well, that may not be the case at all.  Early numbers of Census are out, and the worst place in the country: Chicago.

Chicago households have one of the lowest rates of returning Census forms by mail, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Nationally, 50 percent of households had mailed back forms as of Tuesday, according to a release from the nureau. But in Chicago, the mail participation rate is only 36 percent.

“We’re concerned about the relatively low response from Chicago,” Census Director Robert Groves said in the release. “Every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May — at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest and best way to be counted is to fill out and return your form by mail.”

According to the Census Bureau Web site, as of Wednesday, the participation rate in Cook County was 43 percent; in DuPage County 56 percent; in Will County 57 percent; in Lake County 55 percent; in McHenry County,60 percent; and in Lake County, Ind. the rate was 48 percent and in Porter County, Ind., 56 percent.

In 2000, 58 percent of Chicago households returned their forms by mail, the release said. The national rate in 2000 was 72 percent.

Another person blowing up the “Red Staters-Census Meme” is liberal number-cruncher Nate Silver, who runs the numbers at 538.com.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Daily Quick Hits

How Has Dave Hansen Not Gotten Around to This?

(H/T Say Anything Blog)

Expect this to be on every AFSCME member’s wish list in a few years.

ALBANY—Assembly Democrats have quietly advanced sweeping legislation—already being called the “Rubber Rooms for All Act”—to extend tenure-like job protection to all public workers, countering efforts to roll back rigid regulations like those that keep hundreds of failed teachers on the city payroll.

The bill, introduced by Governmental Employees Chairman Peter Abbate Jr. (D-Brooklyn)—who proudly proclaims himself “the unions’ bulldog”—would nix in-house disciplinary proceedings for all state civil servants accused of wrongdoing by their employers.

Instead, workers would be entitled to a binding ruling by an “independent” arbitrator approved by both the employer and the employee.

The bill makes no provision to break a stalemate, suggesting a dispute could drag on indefinitely.

The legislation would also ban state and local governments from suspending workers without pay while the arbitration process plays out. An exception would be made only for those accused of sale or possession of drugs.

The provisions mirror the state’s “rubber room” law, which makes it nearly impossible to fire tenured teachers and has led the Department of Education to warehouse some 675 unwanted teachers in so-called reassignment centers daily at a cost of $40.5 million last year.

Then again, with recent recess appointments to the NLRB, it could be coming this year…

R.I.P Jaime Escalante

There are great teachers, and then there are the amazing ones.  We’ve lost one of the amazing ones.

The math teacher at a tough East Los Angeles high school who inspired the movie “Stand and Deliver,” has died. He was 79.

Family friend Keith Miller says Jaime Escalante (HEYE’-may es-kuh-LAHN’-tay) died Tuesday in Reno, Nev., where he was undergoing treatment for bladder cancer.

An immigrant from Bolivia, he transformed Garfield High School by motivating struggling students to tackle and excel at advanced math and science. The school had more Advanced Placement calculus students than all but three other public high schools in the country.

The actor Edward James Olmos played Escalante in the film based on his story.

Olmos says Escalante proved that inner city students can perform at the highest levels, and left an important legacy for American education.


Video of the Day

Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner calls out Obama for saying that Heritage was the foundation for the individual mandate.  That reality couldn’t be farther from the truth, as President Feulner explains.

Best Posts of the Day

“Henry Waxman’s War on Accounting” by Megan McArdle

“Mitt Romney vs. ObamaCare” by Peter Suderman

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Doyle on Zoo SNAFU: “Don’t Blame Me”

When you’re a weasel of a politician, you go all out don’t you.

People of Wisconsin: I give you James E. Doyle, Governor of the State of the Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday that the decision to rebuild the Zoo Interchange after work on I-94 south from Milwaukee to the state line was made before he became governor in 2003.

He said he tried to move up the timetable for the Zoo Interchange project but had to put it back on its original schedule because of budget problems.

In his first public comments, he noted the project was still years away because of advance design work that needs to be done.

“I hope everybody understands that even if somebody two years ago said, ‘Do the Zoo Interchange, here’s 3 billion, let’s do it,’ it would take six (or) seven years of . . . engineering work to be done.”

Doyle made his comments after the emergency closure Friday of the Highway 45 bridge in the Zoo Interchange. The bridge is expected to be closed for two months for repairs, causing detours and delays for thousands of commuters.

Some Republicans and others have blamed the Doyle administration for the bridge falling into disrepair.

Doyle is right in the sense that engineering on the project would have taken time.  Engineering on the Zoo would have taken a few year, but it would have been either completed or possibly expedited if the type of damage now seen on the Zoo had been noticed in late 2005 or 2006 when WisDOT engineers first would have had a chance to look at the project.  This would have happened in the case of the Zoo; especially if we had a Governor who wanted to see the project done.

Sadly, it took a highway bridge collapsing in Minnesota and deterioration of the Zoo noticed by engineers last year to even get us to where we now are.

In fact, in 2001-02, former Governor Scott McCallum did a series of commercials for his DOT promoting public input on the upcoming Marquette Interchange project.  If memory serves, the Doyle Campaign at the time attacked the ads as a waste of taxpayer resources and McCallum using them to boost his public profile for the 2002 race.

(I now wait for 2002 Doyle Campaign Manager and uber-liberal blogger Bill “Xoff” Christofferson to tell me I’m lying.)

The truth is Doyle has never given a damn about Milwaukee’s interchanges and consistently opposed any means to replace them.  He only got on-board the Marquette after it was announced the were going to be both under-budget and ahead of schedule — a rarity in a public works project of that size — and he could use it to his advantage as a public relations victory.  Beyond that, Doyle has shown he doesn’t view transportation projects as vital to the state.

Raiding the transportation fund budget after budget and using it as a slush fund during his tenure as Governor only enhances that image.

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Matt Modine is One Loco Bird

(H/T Big Hollywood)

Matt Modine, who probably hasn’t been relevant as an actor since “Gross Anatomy,” has one keen idea.  Let’s find Osama Bin Laden, sit him down and pretty much hold the equivalent of a group therapy session with the world’s most wanted terrorist.  In fact, Modine wants to know what it was that made OBL so mad with us in the first place, and apparently what “New Age” techniques would help him get over it.

Imagine if somebody were to really sit down with Osama Bin Ladin and say, ‘listen man,what is it that you’re so angry at me about that you’re willing to have people strap bombs to themselves, or get inside of airplanes and fly them into buildings.’ That would be the miracle if we can get, sit down and talk to our enemies and find a way for them to hear us.

You can see the video of it here.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Daily Quick Hits

Ricky Martin is Gay

Yeah, didn’t see that one coming. (Enough sarcasm there?)

The Latest RNC Issue

Clearly, the issue at hand is the RNC’s Finance Department, and whoever was the person in it who thought okay to approve the $2,000 expenditure at the West Hollywood club should either be disciplined or all-out terminated.  From indications posted at the Corner, there will be a sacking of some sort coming shortly.  One thing a lot of Republican candidates out West (the man at fault seems to be a California direct-mail consultant)

I do think dragging in Chairman Steele into this aspect of the story was unprofessional of the The Daily Caller, especially since they were backtracking on the story as the day went on in regards to the West Hollywood club.   Though, can we finally have a week where the RNC finances are not a story unto themselves?

What Are the Odds?

In a story about approval rating on Speaker Pelosi, the Washington Post called 1000 people at random for their input.  One of them was a “John Murtha of Orlando, Florida, who was quoted in the story.

Obviously the name rang some bells in political circles.  It was weirder than that, it was the son of the very late Congressman.

The Zoo SNAFU (Trademark Pending)

Watching the spin from a far on what has to have been the most avoidable transportation problem in Wisconsin history is a blast.  The Barrett guys look like they’re whining, the Walker guys can’t seem to have enough fun, and liberal bloggers are to the point of depravity.

My favorite is former Norquist aide James Rowen, who seems to think conservatives are happy the Zoo is a mess (Sorry Jim, were not happy, we’re simply pointing out it could have been avoidable.).  Admittedly, the irony isn’t lost on me hearing a former Norquist aide talk about the Zoo collapsing; since Barrett pretty much picked up the torch Norquist had carried when it came to highways and the Metro Milwaukee area.

The Neumann Rumor Mill

Having worked on campaigns before, let’s be clear with ourselves; it wasn’t a cool or smart move.  It’s also not the end of the world for the Neumann campaign or this young kid’s career.  It’s about a 1.75 out of 10 on the “Worst Things Campaigns can do to Each Other” Scale.  It’s amateur no doubt, but the lasting damage is negligible at least.  It’s an act which will be forgotten by next month.

The only comparable thing in primary campaigns past I’ve seen (and frankly she’ll be pissed I mention this again, but screw it we already hate each other) is when Katie Harbath was caught starting a whisper campaign of sorts June 2007 within the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign against the Mitt Romney campaign with sending an email to bloggers about a story in a Salt Lake City newspaper about “The White Horse Prophesy,” a discredited legend about a Mormon in the White House.  At the end, it caused a personal phone call of apology from Rudy to Mitt for the email.

What both Walker and Neumann campaigns (and bloggers siding with either side) should do is just let the story go.  The damage is done — mostly self-inflicted to Neumann — and there’s not much else to gain by bringing it up again. If there’s been a behind-the-scenes apology between both men, the better.

As for the staffer, buck up.  You screwed up.  It happens.  Now just keep you head down and do your job to the best of your ability.

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Wisconsin Never Had a Chance

The winners of the first round of “Race to the Top” funding are out, and they were Delaware and Tennessee.  So congratulations to the 1st State and the Volunteer State. Here’s hoping the interstate fighting for federal cash does wonders.

So, how did the Badger State do?  According to the findings by the Department of Education, Wisconsin may have either never had a chance, or factions inside Wisconsin were never going to give to win the funding.

Wisconsin ranked 26th out of 41 states and the District of Columbia that applied for the first round of Race to the Top, a competitive grant process meant to stimulate education reform across the country.

The winners of the first round of the $4.35 billion competition – Delaware and Tennessee – were announced today by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Finalists for the first round included the District of Columbia and 15 other states.

Likely to spark chatter among state leaders and others following education in Wisconsin is the state’s Race to the Top scorecard, which shows Wisconsin earning 341.2 points out of a possible 500.

For comparision, winners Delaware and Tennessee scored an initial 454.6 points and 444.2 points, respectively.

We’re still sifting through the score card and reviewer comments, but it appears Wisconsin’s score was reached by averaging the final scores of five reviewers that assesed the state’s application. The scores from the reviewers ranged from a high of 381 to one reviewer’s score of 293 points.

One theme that emerged among a number of reviewers: Wisconsin lost points because school districts were not explicitly committed to working on certain aspects of Race to the Top criteria. One reviewer points out that only 11% of district-level union leaders committed to the projects Wisconsin proposed in its application.

So when do we just stop and admit the following:

1) WEAC isn’t going to let a little thing like “Better Grades and Performance for Kids” ruin what they have going now.

2) The trip to Madison to announce “Race to the Top” was not about Wisconsin, it was about pushing Tom Barrett into running for governor.

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“More Guns, Less Crime”

Hmmm…think that’d be a nice name for a book or something?

Good to see the CDC is backing up Dr. Lott’s theories. (Though I do wonder why it is the Center for Disease Control and not the Justice Department which collects gun statistics?)

Americans overall are far less likely to be killed with a firearm than they were when it was much more difficult to obtain a concealed-weapons permit, according to statistics collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control. But researchers have not been able to establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

In the 1980s and ’90s, as the concealed-carry movement gained steam, Americans were killed by others with guns at the rate of about 5.66 per 100,000 population. In this decade, the rate has fallen to just over 4.07 per 100,000, a 28 percent drop. The decline follows a fivefold increase in the number of “shall-issue” and unrestricted concealed-carry states from 1986 to 2006.The highest gun homicide rate is in Washington, D.C., which has had the nation’s strictest gun-control laws for years and bans concealed carry: 20.50 deaths per 100,000 population, five times the general rate. The lowest rate, 1.12, is in Utah, which has such a liberal concealed weapons policy that most American adults can get a permit to carry a gun in Utah without even visiting the state.

The decline in gun homicides also comes as U.S. firearm sales are skyrocketing, according to federal background checks that are required for most gun sales. After holding stable at 8.5 to 9 million checks from 1999 to 2005, the FBI reported a surge to 10 million in 2006, 11 million in 2007, nearly 13 million in 2008 and more than 14 million last year, a 55 percent increase in just four years.

These federal statistics will not move one Democrat in the State of Wisconsin to change their views on letting the people of the state carry a concealed carry.

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That Civility Pledge is Working Wonders for the DNC

Yes, just wonders…

Police are investigating vandalism at the Albemarle County Republican headquarters.

The Daily Progress of Charlottesville reports that someone threw bricks through the headquarter’s windows, breaking three of them.  The vandalism was discovered Friday morning.

Earlier this week, someone cut a propane line leading to a grill at the Charlottesville home of Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother after the address was posted online by activists angry about the health care overhaul.

Albemarle County Republican Chairwoman Rachel Shoenewald says people are angry on both sides of the political spectrum.

In November, someone glued the county GOP headquarters’ doors shut on Election Day.

Charlottesville is the home of both the University of Virginia and Monticello, the historical home of Thomas Jefferson.

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