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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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