Monday, August 18, 2003

Ohh those evil communists at The Financial Times

Posted without comment, as the FT piece speaks for itself:
Mike Bloomberg showed once again that New York needs its mayor to take charge - since George W. Bush had other things on his mind when the nation's largest city plunged into darkness.

In the role performed masterfully by Rudolph Giuliani after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Bloomberg took to the airwaves Thursday afternoon to tell New Yorkers to go home, open their windows, drink lots of water - even though few could hear him, being without electricity.

On Friday, Bloomberg was up early to tell people to stay at home. "There are worse things than taking a summer Friday off from work," he said. And then he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

None of this is remarkable, unless one considers what the president did.

When Bush was first alerted, he kept eating lunch. Then he raised some more money for his re-election campaign. And when darkness had fallen on the north-east, he announced: "One thing I think I can say for certain is that this was not a terrorist act."

After an air-conditioned night's sleep, Bush had some forward-looking thoughts: "I view it as a wake-up call, an indication we need to modernise the electricity grid." No kidding?

School budgets, oversight, and where we're headed

In a recent post to Maplewood Online, Zoe says he/she is convinced that there's lots of money being wasted by the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education and that the new (post Vic 'n Jerry) Board of School Estimate should root it out.

I know most of the people on the BoSE and the School Board, I've read the school district's budget, I've been on the CBAC's Schools Committee, and I'm not the least bit convinced that there is any significant waste at all. Quite the contrary, in fact - the schools are quite efficient - just chronically short of funds for ongoing programs.

What Zoe and his/her ilk NEVER do is back their convictions with any numbers. So, a challenge for Zoe - on what do you base your claims, besides a desire to not pay taxes. Specifics, please. If you should read this, and respond, I'll be happy to post it, sans editorial comment (though I reserve the right to rebut :-) )

My fear is, if we go down the path Zoe wants (a road too many others have already taken), we'll end up with schools like this(via Kevin Drum's CalPundit):
Bridget Green, the valedictorian of Alcee Fortier Senior High School in Louisiana, failed to graduate because she couldn't pass the high school graduation exam.

The nickel version of the story is that she received an A in her Algebra 2 class and top grades in the rest of her subjects, but failed the math portion of the graduation test. You can check out sample questions from the test here.

This is all bad enough � how could someone who failed a 10th grade level math test get an A in algebra? � but I'd like to focus on one other aspect of this affair. Here are a couple of quotes from the Times-Picayune story:

Principal Harvey Cyrus: "I was shocked. I just can't understand it."

Karen Alexander, Green's guardian: "How were we to know that anything was wrong, that she wasn't going to pass this test?"
If anything, our schools need MORE money, not less but, given the onerous (and stupid) system of school funding via property taxation, I'm afraid it ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

You MUST listen...

via Eric Alterman:
Wow; Check It Out: WKCR in NY will be having a John Coltrane Festival, which will take place September 14th-26th, featuring Coltrane’s entire recorded legacy, approximately 200 hours of music. Rounding out the festivals will be focused presentation of important phases of Coltrane’s career, examinations of his recorded masterworks, and interviews with his remaining musical collaborators. Tune in around the clock this September for John Coltrane Radio on WKCR 89.9FM. Also wkcr.org.
Don't miss it, even if you have to turn off An Idiot's Delights!

This is not the America I grew up believing in

Atlanta Journal-Constitution via The Agonist:
Private businesses such as phone companies, banks and retail stores are facing more requests from law enforcement agencies for information about their customers, forcing many to deploy staff and upgrade equipment to meet the demand.

The subpoenas and court orders, many stemming from new government powers to search for terrorists, have alarmed civil rights groups and privacy advocates, who say that the government is secretly snooping on innocent citizens.

"It's very scary," said Oren Teicher, chief operating officer of the American Booksellers Association, a nonprofit group that represents 2,000 businesses.

Law enforcement subpoenas to bookstores have increased in recent years, including requests for titles of books purchased by customers, he said.

The association is lobbying Congress to repeal a portion of the Patriot Act that gives law enforcement broader authority to obtain such subpoenas through a secret court. Under the law, it is illegal for companies to disclose information about the requests, making the problem difficult to quantify, Teicher said. But it is enough to cause alarm in the bookselling community, he added.
As Benjamin Frankiln famously noted, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Bravo to the American Booksellers Association for getting it. Too bad the Bush administration does not.

Maybe its time to take Ben off the $100 bill and replace him with John Ashcroft? But first, send one of those $100's off to the DNC!

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