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Archive for July, 2012

Random Thoughts on a Tuesday Night

- It’s “Mob Week” on AMC, so I’m watch­ing the God­fa­ther, Part II right now.  Must say, it’s not until this movie that I actu­ally start hat­ing the char­ac­ter of Michael Cor­leone.  All of his actions in the first film can be jus­ti­fied, either as a way of pro­tect­ing his sis­ter, aveng­ing his brother Sonny, or even off­ing the heads of the Five Fam­i­lies was sort of a pre­emp­tive strike to avoid get­ting killed.

The sec­ond film, the dude’s com­pletely a dark soul.  Though that being said, Fredo deserved to die.

- It tells you how impres­sive a legacy Mil­ton Fried­man has had when you have so many lib­er­als try to tear him down today.   In the past few days, we’ve had the mad shoe sales­man at Cog_Dis try (and fail) with a hor­ri­bly thought out take, and today Scot Ross at OWN appears to show he’s never taken an eco­nom­ics class in his life or read any­thing the Chicago School of Eco­nomic Thought pub­lished and turned into mul­ti­ple Nobel Prizes.

- Are Jeff Simp­son and Ross against the Draft?  Well,they can thank Fried­man for point­ing out there’s lit­tle eco­nomic ben­e­fit to mil­i­tary con­scrip­tion and he had a will­ing ear in for­mer Wis­con­sin Con­gress­man Melvin Laird (Dave Obey’s direct pre­de­ces­sor) as SecDef will­ing to con­sider the all-volunteer military.

Some­thing tells me they won’t bother to acknowl­edge that fact.

- Have to won­der how many of the same folks down in Texas sup­port­ing and cel­e­brat­ing Ted Cruz’s win in the GOP Sen­ate pri­mary are ready for the blow back they’re about to get from Wis­con­sin Repub­li­cans if they try the same thing up here to boost Mark Neumann.

Hey, they’re the ones who clearly don’t know $#!+ about Wis­con­sin pol­i­tics and had to get behind the jerk.  Ah well, they’ll learn fast.

- Casey McGehee’s now a Yan­kee?  (Do I laugh at the Yan­kees now or later?)

- So Democ­rats have made pub­lic the redis­trict­ing doc­u­ments from last year now that they con­trol the state Sen­ate.  Remind me again, but how is this sup­posed to mat­ter since the only peo­ple who will be pissed about them are locked in very Dem-leaning dis­tricts in Mil­wau­kee and Madison?

Also, how can the Democ­rats say with a straight face that they wouldn’t have done the same thing if the roles were reversed.  They have their own num­ber crunch­ers and could eas­ily remade the state’s leg­isla­tive dis­trict maps in their image.

Finally, they are aware all they’re releas­ing was made pub­lic dur­ing the fed­eral trial, right?  It’s called “The Dis­cov­ery Phase.”

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Latest “Skyfall” Trailer Released

Admit­tedly, com­pared to the other “new” trailer that is out there — the one accom­pa­ny­ing IMAX air­ings of “The Dark Knight Rises” but not yet avail­able online — I don’t like this one as much as I did that one.  There’s far too much plot reveal here than in the IMAX one.

Why does Javier Bardem’s blond dye job remind me of the one Christo­pher Walkens had in “A View to a Kill?”

Also, there was much more inter­ac­tion between Daniel Craig’s “James Bond” and Ben Whishaw’s “Major Boothroyd” a.k.a “Q” in the IMAX ver­sion.  In that trailer, you find that “Q” has been updated for the 21st Cen­tury being more inclined to deal with cyber-terrorism than mak­ing gad­gets for 007.

Any­way, enjoy.  Because “Bond is Back!”


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Happy 100th Milton Friedman

I’m a Mil­ton Fried­mann fan not for his dis­cus­sions on mon­e­tary pol­icy (for which he won the Nobel), but for one idea he had – School Vouch­ers.  The idea is so sim­ple, you won­der why it took so long before they were finally enacted?

School Vouch­ers return to par­ents the flex­i­bil­ity of going where they want with their money.  No longer are they forced to go to the local school just because of geo­graph­i­cal hap­pen­stance if they believe it has a record of failure.

Fried­man pio­neered the idea of edu­ca­tional vouch­ers, and more than a half cen­tury later, that vision is tak­ing hold at a rapid pace. State lead­ers across the coun­try are mak­ing school choice a real­ity for hun­dreds of thou­sands of Amer­i­can fam­i­lies. In 2011 alone, 13 states enacted or expanded school choice pro­grams, prompt­ing The Wall Street Jour­nal to deem 2011 “The Year of School Choice.”

Ari­zona enacted ground­break­ing edu­ca­tion sav­ings accounts, Indi­ana cre­ated the largest voucher pro­gram in the coun­try, and the highly suc­cess­ful D.C. Oppor­tu­nity Schol­ar­ship Pro­gram was reauthorized.

While school choice momen­tum has been build­ing dra­mat­i­cally in the last two years, most chil­dren still attend assigned pub­lic schools. For too many fam­i­lies, school choice remains out of reach.

Poor fam­i­lies are most affected by this lack of choice. As Fried­man noted, “There is no respect in which inhab­i­tants of a low-income neigh­bor­hood are so dis­ad­van­taged as in the kind of school­ing they can get for their chil­dren.” It is a sad state­ment quan­ti­fied by data on low lev­els of aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment and attainment.

In Den­ver, just 44 per­cent of stu­dents grad­u­ate. In Philadel­phia, a mere 46 per­cent of stu­dents com­plete high school. And in Detroit, just 33 per­cent of chil­dren graduate.

And if they are per­sis­tent enough to grad­u­ate, what have they learned? Nine per­cent of Bal­ti­more fourth-graders are pro­fi­cient in read­ing. Just 11 per­cent of their eighth-grade peers can read pro­fi­ciently. A dev­as­tat­ing 7 per­cent of Cleve­land fourth-graders are pro­fi­cient in read­ing. In Detroit, just 6 per­cent can read proficiently.

These low lev­els of aca­d­e­mic achieve­ment and attain­ment aren’t con­fined to low-income stu­dents or urban school dis­tricts. Across the coun­try, for all chil­dren, just one-third can read pro­fi­ciently. Grad­u­a­tion rates have hov­ered around 74 per­cent since the 1970s, and math and read­ing achieve­ment has been vir­tu­ally flat over the same time period. On inter­na­tional assess­ments, Amer­i­can stu­dents rank in the mid­dle of the pack, out­per­formed in math by the Czech Repub­lic, Slo­va­kia, and Estonia.

Fried­man had a strong belief in the power of mar­kets to improve edu­ca­tion, and he didn’t mince words about school choice: We will only see improve­ments in edu­ca­tion, he said, “by pri­va­tiz­ing a major seg­ment of the edu­ca­tional system—i.e., by enabling a pri­vate, for-profit indus­try to develop that will pro­vide a wide vari­ety of learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties and offer effec­tive com­pe­ti­tion to pub­lic schools.”

That’s cer­tainly going big on school choice. But what exactly did Fried­man mean by “pri­va­tiz­ing a major seg­ment of the edu­ca­tional sys­tem”? Just because we have agreed to the pub­lic financ­ing of edu­ca­tion does not mean gov­ern­ment should be the sole provider of that edu­ca­tion and dic­tate where chil­dren go to school.

As we remem­ber Fried­man on his 100th birth­day, we need to rethink what “pub­lic” edu­ca­tion means, think­ing instead in terms of edu­cat­ing the pub­lic, not in terms of government-run schools—that is, as pub­licly financed but oper­ated by many dif­fer­ent providers. If we con­sider pub­lic edu­ca­tion in those terms, we can start to think through fund­ing mech­a­nisms at the state level that will bring about wide­spread school choice.

Today, we have a grow­ing num­ber of inno­v­a­tive school choice options—charters, vouch­ers, tax cred­its, online learn­ing, and edu­ca­tion sav­ings accounts, to name a few. These options were con­ceived in the mind of Fried­man and are being brought to life by reform-oriented gov­er­nors and leg­is­la­tors across the country.

Edu­ca­tion is one of our most vital ser­vices in our soci­ety.  There’s never been a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion given why it should be run by a gov­ern­ment monop­oly — ever.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Brewers Fire Bullpen Coach

Now…if we can just fire the rest of the bullpen.

The Brew­ers’ strug­gling bullpen has pro­duced another casu­alty. Long­time coach Stan Kyles was “relieved of his duties” today, accord­ing to the team.

Lee Tun­nell will replace Kyles on an interim basis and report to the team on Tues­day. Kyles had been in his cur­rent role since 2009 and coached in the Minor Leagues before that.

It is impor­tant that we make every effort to try to improve our bullpen per­for­mance,” Brew­ers gen­eral man­ager Doug Melvin said in a state­ment. “While Stan is not solely respon­si­ble, I felt that this change was the first step and was nec­es­sary. Stan has been a loyal mem­ber of the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers orga­ni­za­tion for 11 years. His hard work and ded­i­ca­tion has been an inte­gral part of the Brew­ers’ suc­cess and is greatly appre­ci­ated. His pro­fes­sion­al­ism, per­son­al­ity and knowl­edge will be missed.”

Tun­nell is  his fourth sea­son with the orga­ni­za­tion and had been Minor League pitch­ing coor­di­na­tor. Prior to that role, he spent three sea­sons with the Reds as interim bullpen coach (2006) and pro scout (2007–08). He also coached in the Rangers orga­ni­za­tion for nine sea­sons (1997–2005).

Brew­ers reliev­ers are 15–26 with a 4.80 ERA this sea­son. The bullpen has recorded the most losses and blown saves (20) in the Major Leagues and ranks 28th in ERA and 29th in oppo­nent bat­ting aver­age (.274).

True story.  I went to Fri­day night’s game with my brother and two of his friends.  Mid­way through the 6th — with the Crew up 6 — 0 and start­ing pitcher Mike Fiers being pulled — I turn to my brother and go, “Well, with the way the bullpen’s going, you just hope it’s enough.”

Thank­fully, they held the lead and only one Nation­als bat­ter even reached third the rest of the game.

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Only 29 Points?

Well, this was expected news.  Of course, with the path Kelda Roys is on, this very well could be 40 points by elec­tion day.

A poll from Mark Pocan’s cam­paign had the Madi­son law­maker up almost 30 points on rival Kelda Roys in the Dem pri­mary for the 2nd CD.

The sur­vey found 50 per­cent of those polled backed Pocan, com­pared to 21 per­cent for Roys, 4 per­cent for Matt Sil­ver­man and 2 per­cent for Den­nis Hall. Twenty-one per­cent of respon­dents were undecided.

Accord­ing to a polling memo Pocan sent to sup­port­ers and obtained by WisPolitics.com, 48 per­cent of Dem pri­mary vot­ers had a favor­able impres­sion of Pocan, com­pared to 6 per­cent who had a neg­a­tive impression.

Twenty-five per­cent of those polled had a favor­able impres­sion of Roys, com­pared to 8 per­cent who did not.

The poll was con­ducted July 24–25 by Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner Research Inc. It sur­veyed 401 reg­is­tered and likely Dem pri­mary vot­ers and had a mar­gin of error of plus or minus 4.9 per­cent­age points.

Green­berg Quin­lan Ros­ner was also polling firm used by the union front group “We Are Wis­con­sin” (Now with offices clos­ing through­out most of the state…).  They were the ones fronting out num­bers say­ing it was tied between Bar­rett and Walker while most inde­pen­dent polling was show­ing the race wasn’t even close.

Few polit­i­cal insid­ers I’ve spo­ken too think that pri­mary will be close at all.

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Cartoon of the Day

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I Have Three Years Left to Go…

My cur­rent car is a 2004 Chevro­let Impala made in Ontario, Canada.  Accord­ing to this report, it tech­ni­cally is only “mid­dle aged.”

Sur­veys show that most cars on the road today are 11 years old, not because peo­ple can’t afford to replace them in this econ­omy, but because they’ve been built so well (Thanks Japan­ese qual­ity), that more folks are just dri­ving their cars until they expire on their own.

Today’s car buy­ers are in it for the long haul. Ear­lier this year, a report indi­cated that dri­vers could be expected to hang onto a new car for an aver­age of six years after pur­chase, up from four years not long ago. Accord­ing to a new sur­vey, though, the vast major­ity of con­sumers say they now plan on keep­ing cars for 10 years or more.

The aver­age car on the road is 11 years old, the high­est fig­ure ever recorded. The results of a new sur­vey indi­cate that this aver­age will only increase down the line—and chances are, these old cars will be dri­ven by a sin­gle owner for most, if not all of their lifespans.

In the sur­vey, spon­sored by AutoMD.com—a car-repair rat­ing site, so the sub­ject mat­ter is some­what self-serving—78% of dri­vers say that they plan on keep­ing their cars for 10 or more years after pur­chase. The press release announc­ing the sur­vey results states that “The Three Year Vehi­cle Pur­chase Cycle Is Dead,” but I don’t know if such a cycle was ever truly thriv­ing in the main­stream. Aren’t the peo­ple who plan on dri­ving a car for just two or three years leas­ing rather than buying?

Leas­ing is where I’m think­ing of going with my next car, it makes more sense then seek­ing out a car loan to buy a newer vehi­cle.  Also, I think this sur­vey pin­points some­thing else — “Cash for Clunk­ers” was an absolute fail­ure, espe­cially if the aver­age car on Amer­i­can roads is eleven years old.

Then again, the idea that “Cash for Clunk­ers” worked only exists inside the Obama White House or maybe at the DNC.  They’re the only ones tout­ing its “suc­cess” after all.  Most car deal­er­ships didn’t.

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Quote of the Day

(H/T Instapun­dit)

Mark Movs­esian of the Cen­ter for Law and Reli­gion Forum blog, a prod­uct of St. John Uni­ver­sity Law School writes on what the Chick-Fil-A con­tro­versy really is a sign of — the bud­ding war which will be an intol­er­ant left-wing activist base push­ing social change against those who wish to hang on to their tra­di­tional way of wor­ship and the beliefs that come with them.

He pre­dicts it will not be pretty.

The Chick-fil-A cor­po­rate lead­er­ship sup­ports tra­di­tional mar­riage from reli­gious con­vic­tion, so the con­tro­versy has impli­ca­tions for reli­gious free­dom in Amer­ica. It’s encour­ag­ing to see that Amer­i­cans under­stand the value of free reli­gious expres­sion and dis­ap­prove of government’s attempts to bully peo­ple into silence – even if they dis­agree with the reli­gious views being expressed. The con­tro­versy does reveal some­thing omi­nous, though. As Robert George and oth­ers have writ­ten, the com­ing clash over reli­gious free­dom in Amer­ica will likely involve sex­u­al­ity: abor­tion, con­tra­cep­tion, pornog­ra­phy, same-sex mar­riage, and so on. On sex­u­al­ity, pro­gres­sives seem increas­ingly unable even to under­stand the world­view of tra­di­tional reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties like Mus­lims, Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians, Ortho­dox Jews, and the Catholic Church. The intu­itions are totally dif­fer­ent: what tra­di­tional reli­gious com­mu­ni­ties can’t help but see as com­mon sense, pro­gres­sives can’t help but see as psy­cho­log­i­cal repres­sion and big­otry. Dis­agree­ment is pro­found. Clashes may be very ugly, indeed.


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Cartoon of the Day

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