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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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SNAFU: “Don’t Blame Me”">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”">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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DNC">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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