Friday, June 29, 2007

Sens. Coleman and Thune Introduce Anti-Fairness Doctrine Bill

Ed Morrisey is reporting that Minnesotat Sen. Norm Coleman and South Dakota Sen. John Thune have introduced a bill in the Senate to forbid the return of the Fairness Doctrine, this one day after similar legislation was overwhelmingly approved in the House.

Good, if Senate Democrats feel that strongly about it, they will have to go on record as opposing Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press.

That sounds familiar--oh yeah--the First Amendment.

Brown v. Board is Dead! Long Live Brown v. Board

In the New York Times, Juan Williams talks about how many liberals and getting Brown v. Board and the Seattle/Louisville cases all wrong about integration:
In 1990, after months of interviews with Justice Thurgood Marshall, who had been the lead lawyer for the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense Fund on the Brown case, I sat in his Supreme Court chambers with a final question. Almost 40 years later, was he satisfied with the outcome of the decision? Outside the courthouse, the failing Washington school system was hypersegregated, with more than 90 percent of its students black and Latino. Schools in the surrounding suburbs, meanwhile, were mostly white and producing some of the top students in the nation.

Had Mr. Marshall, the lawyer, made a mistake by insisting on racial integration instead of improvement in the quality of schools for black children?

His response was that seating black children next to white children in school had never been the point. It had been necessary only because all-white school boards were generously financing schools for white children while leaving black students in overcrowded, decrepit buildings with hand-me-down books and underpaid teachers. He had wanted black children to have the right to attend white schools as a point of leverage over the biased spending patterns of the segregationists who ran schools — both in the 17 states where racially separate schools were required by law and in other states where they were a matter of culture.

If black children had the right to be in schools with white children, Justice Marshall reasoned, then school board officials would have no choice but to equalize spending to protect the interests of their white children.
Brown v. Board was about resources, not diversity. In segregated schools, black children received a pittance in resources compared to white students. The fact that integration would end racial discrminiation was a side effect of what Marshall and the NAACP was seeking at that time.

Today however, the school districts with the largest black and Hispanic populations also tend to have the highest per pupil expenditures in the nation. Look at Newark and Washington, DC as two examples. Newark is spending in excess of $17,000 per student and DC is just over $15,000 or twice the national average per student. No one can legitimately argue that the goal of Brown as stated by Justice Thurgood Marshall, equalized spending, has not been achieved--in fact it has been surpassed. Additionally, as Williams pointed out:
Racial malice is no longer the primary motive in shaping inferior schools for minority children. Many failing big city schools today are operated by black superintendents and mostly black school boards.
The issue now is not a question of resources or leadership, but of quality. If money bought quality, the Newark and Washington DC schools would be leading the country.

So it is time for the United States to begin looking beyond Brown? Absolutely. Racial problems will not be sovled by talking about race, but only when we stop talking about race. Schools are inequitable now for a whole host of reasons, none of them related to racial policies. De facto segregation, as a result of community and economic conditions is the cause of schools being overwhelmingly one race or another in many cases. But what most liberals are failing to grasp is that the adherence to the Brown ruling is actually ruining public education. We have focused so long on achieving "diversity" that we have failed to address quality. A quality education is not found in a diverse classroom alone, but it is found in a classroom with clear standards, high quality teachers, caring parents and a dedicated community. If it happens to be diverse, great, if not, we should not lose sleep because some kids' classroom is 70 percent black or 25 percent black.

25 Hours for a 2.5 Hour Flight

At some point in this ordeal, I would have found alternate means. You can drive from Atlantic City to JFK in a couple of hours.

Not Good News for Hillary, Romney

A Mason Dixon poll of likely general election voters finds that 52 percent of Americans wouldn't consider voting for the NY Senator should she win the nomination.
The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research found that 52 percent of Americans wouldn't consider voting for Clinton, D-N.Y. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, was second in the can't-stand-'em category, with 46 percent saying they wouldn't consider voting for him.


Clinton rang up high negatives across the board, with 60 percent of independents, 56 percent of men, 47 percent of women and 88 percent of Republicans saying they wouldn't consider voting for her.

Romney struggled most with women: 50.9 percent said they wouldn't consider voting for him.
Not good news, but no real changes for Hillary either.

So, the question is, if Hillary is going to have such an uphill battle to win, will the Democrats nominate her. The conventional wisdom is that the gender gap will work in Hillary's favor, but this poll doesn't show such a favorable response.

The Flying Imams Request for Closed Court Denied

The Flying Imams asked a federal judge to hold closed proceedings in their case, citing death threats and that the Imams have been "unfairly critized in press reports and internet blogs." Too bad, you morons.
In her letter to Mohammedi denying the motion, Minnesota Federal District Court Judge Ann Montgomery declined to treat the case "in the extraordinary manner you suggest." She succinctly explained to Mohammedi:
Under the First Amendment, the public and the press have a significant interest in full access to all judicial proceedings, both criminal and civil. You have provided no legal authority supporting your request to limit public access to this case. While it is regrettable that anonymous individuals have threatened violence, the Court Security Officers will insure that the United States Courthouse here in Minneapolis is secure.
Yeah, unlike say a country under Sharia law, our court proceedings are held in public--that is the price of freedom--that you may be critized in public, you lobotomized, mental midgets.

Impeachment Not A Standard Political Tool

That is what Senator Barack Obama said yesterday about the talk regarding impeaching either the President or Vice President. That is not to say that Obama is a fan of the administration at all. has the story:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out list of political shortcomings he sees in the Bush administration but said he opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice President Dick Cheney.

Obama said he would not back such a move, although he has been distressed by the "loose ethical standards, the secrecy and incompetence" of a "variety of characters" in the administration.

"There's a way to bring an end to those practices, you know: vote the bums out," the presidential candidate said, without naming Bush or Cheney. "That's how our system is designed."

The term for Bush and Cheney ends on Jan. 20, 2009. Bush cannot constitutionally run for a third term, and Cheney has said he will not run to succeed Bush.

Obama, a Harvard law school graduate and former lecturer on constitutional law at the University of Chicago, said impeachment should not be used as a standard political tool.

"I think you reserve impeachment for grave, grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president's authority," he said.

"I believe if we began impeachment proceedings we will be engulfed in more of the politics that has made Washington dysfunction," he added. "We would once again, rather than attending to the people's business, be engaged in a tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, non-stop circus."

Obama, son of a Kenyan father and American mother, spoke at a weekly constituent breakfast he sponsors with Illinois' other senator, Dick Durbin. He was asked about impeachment.
Obama is right. The impeachment of Bill Clinton was widely viewed as politically driven, which in large part it was, although at least there was a degree of criminal behavior. While the Bush administration may be arguable incompetent, incompetence is not illegal--if it were, we would need a whole new Congress as well.

Do Idiots Run Washington?

That is the question that Kathryn Jean Lopez asks at The Corner on National Review Online. My answer--YES.

House Buries Fairness Doctrine

In a lopsided vote on an amendment offered by former talk radio host Mike Pence, the House of Representatives sent a message to the Senators who have recently begun talking again about the Fairness Doctrine. In a 309 to 115 vote, the issue split the Democratic caucus in half, with 113 Democrats voting for free speech. According to the Hill report:
The vote count was partly a testament to the influence that radio hosts wield in many congressional districts.

It was also a rebuke to Democratic senators and policy experts who have voiced support this week for regulating talk radio.

House Democrats argued that it was merely a Republican political stunt because there is little danger of the FCC restricting conservative radio while George W. Bush is president.

Republicans counter that they are worried about new regulations if a Democrat wins the White House in 2008.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday that the government should revive the Fairness Doctrine, a policy crafted in 1929 that required broadcasters to balance political content with different points of view.

“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” he said. “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, said this week that she would review the constitutional and legal issues involved in re-establishing the doctrine.

Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nominee, also said recently that the Fairness Doctrine should return.

In 1985 the FCC discarded the policy after deciding that it restricted journalistic freedom and “actually inhibit[ed] the presentation of controversial issues of public importance to the detriment of the public and in degradation of the editorial prerogative of broadcast journalists,” according to a Congressional Research Service report.
Much of the Senate Democrats beef may be, in part, driven by the massive voter contact effort on the immigration bill, a grassroots groundswell that may have led to a shut down of the phone system on Capitol Hill with so many people calling in to voice displeasure over the immigration bill.

Senate Democrats may argue that conservative talk radio spurred the call in campaign-and it may have. But that is no reason to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. The Doctrine amounts to governmen imposed rules on content--a matter of, at best, questionable Constititional basis. Such a Doctrine is unlikely, in the modern age, to survive a constitutional challege.

U.S. Men's Soccer Team Falls to Argentina

The Uninted State Men's National Soccer Team lost for the first time in 2007 to a strong Argentine team4-1 in the opening match for both teams in the Copa America. The U.S. Men, who were 10-0-1 coming into the game started the scoring on a penalty kick by Eddie Johnson in the 9th minute of play. Two minutes later, Argentina struck back to tie the score and the two sides played tied for much of the remainder of the game. With just 25 minutes left in teh game, the Argentina side cranked out three goals in 20 minutes.

The young American team played well against the number five team in the world. U.S. Coach Bob Bradley did not bring most of the squad that played in the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, opting instead to bring in young players who will likely form the nucleus of the U.S. side in the coming three years leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The U.S., currently ranked 16 in the world, will face Paraguay on Monday. Paraguay, who spanked Columbia in the other Group C match, is coming off a 5-0 win. Wins by the U.S. over Paraguay and Columbia will assure advancement to the quarter finals. However, the Unites States could still advance even with a third place finish in the Group. With three four team groups, the top two teams in each group advance, plus the two best third place teams on points and goals. But the U.S. will need to win at least one of their two remaining matches to advance. Two wins will pretty much guarantee advancement.

Brazil and Arentina are the favorites to win the Copa America. If the U.S. comes in second in their group, they will likely face the Brazilians in the quarterfinals--a tough match to be sure.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Single Sex Schools and Classrooms

The Frederick New Post has this editorial related to a story I posted about earlier this week. A group of parents in Frederick County, MD want to open a charter school for girls that would focus on math, science and languages. As I noted earlier, I like the idea of a charter school that focuses on these subjects, but I have deep legal and personal reservations about a single sex public school (remember charters are public schools).

The Editors at the FNP write write about the issues of single sex education vs. coed education. They make some very good points:
There is evidence to support the premise that mixing boys and girls in the same classroom, or even the same school, is not the best way to proceed for either sex, yet it is the basis of the vast majority of public education here and nationwide.

Same-sex education -- all-boy or all-girl classes and schools -- is already a subject of interest here in Frederick County. Several years ago, some experimental all-boy elementary classes were proposed to test the premise that boys could do better in school if their learning environment was "boyed up" to better conform to how they learn.

This idea was proposed because there is a lot of evidence that boys don't perform as well as girls in typical learning environments, and that early failures continue to plague boys as they progress through elementary, middle and high school.

One particularly telling statistic involves the numbers of women and men in U.S. colleges and universities, where women both outnumber and outperform their male counterparts, and the gap appears to be widening.

The theory being put to the test in experimental all-boy classes involves how boys best learn. It appears that physical freedom, less structure and more flexible teaching methods are conducive to boys learning -- and that those elements are not present -- or at least prevalent -- in most traditional schools and classrooms.
Evidence does suggest that boys learn differently than girls and that perhaps some accomodations could be made to capitalize on those learning differences. To be sure, most classroom set ups in America are not done to benefit either sex in learning, but to benefit the adults in education and make their lives easier. I am not suggesting we do away with adult authority, but we need to look more closely and why boys thrive in one kind of atmosphere than in another and the same for girls.

While I am convinced that boys, as a group, learn differently than girls (of course there are exceptions), I am not convinced that girls "self-esteem and assertiveness" are damaged in coed science or math classes. It may be that the classes, as they are currently taught, match the learning styles of girls--a theory I am much more open to testing than "self-esteem" learning issues.

To this point, I am okay with the FNP's editorial, until I get to this paragraph:
Again, there is some evidence for this theory. Statistics show that boys go down the science/math/technology/computer road in much greater numbers than girls, who more often choose other careers such as teaching. Some suggest this is at least in part an explanation for the stubborn salary disparity that continues to exist between men and women.
Earlier this month, I posted this on the pay gap between men and women and how the choices of each sex in college and what they study leads to the disparities in pay more than anything else.
For once, the blame for the pay disparity among men and women is being properly attributed to personal decisions and not some insidious "discrimination" cause that no one can really prove on a widespread basis.
Please note that pay discrimination is illegal in this country and while there is nothing wrong with teaching as a profession, as a rule teachers are paid less than electrical engineers. Each person makes a choice and those choices carry consequences.

Look if Ms. Philips wants to build a charter school, good luck to her. But I think her chances of approval will be vastly increased if she said she was going to have some classes as single sex classes and allow both boys and girls to attend. I might even be willing to help in whatever way I can.

The Future of Senator Reid

Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made reference to teh six months in which he and his party have been in control of the Senate and there is so much left to do. Of course, everything the Democrats said they were going to do when they took control remains undone, so in effect Harry Reid is right.

With so much to do and so little leadership ability from Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic caucus needs to take a good long look at why things are not getting done. To be sure, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, is not simply letting Reid walk all over the GOP, but that is McConnell's job, to make Reid's life more difficult. But there are other reasons why Reid's tenure is marked more by failure than by successes.

At the start, it must be noted that most of the Democratic activity in the Senate has been in a reactionary position. The Democratic caucus has been responding to what the Administration is doing. While oversight of the Administration is an important job for Congress, it seems that all the Senate Democrats have done is oversee the Bush Administration. So by definition, the Democrats are reacting to what is happening around them rather than trying to shape the debate or events.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy with such a state of affairs, a do-nothing Congress is better than a Congress screwing things up by not thinking. Having said that, being in the majority means you have the power to be more pro-active and Reid & Co. have not been particularly proactive in any area.

Second, Senate Democrats have displayed a stunning lack of insight and connection to the American people. The immigration bill is just the latest example. The whole premise of their victory in November, at least from the Democratic perspective, was a rejection of the Bush policies in Iraq and a perception that the United States had to end the war in Iraq. But Reid and the Democrats collapsed with a mighty thud and passed some wimpy langauge that the President can ignore with impunity. Do most Americans want a change of direction in Iraq, but so far the Democrats can't come up with one, leaving their base and the majority of Americans floundering in the dark, unsure of where the U.S. is going in the Middle East.

Third, Reid simply is not savvy enough to control even the majority of his own party. While this is not necessarily his fault (after all the Democrats elected him to his position), Reid simply has not stepped up to the plate. If he can't lead the Senators in his own caucus, how does he expect to lead the nation? Reid's tactical mistakes are exacerbated by his refusal to listen to members of his own caucus. When Democratic stalwarts like Robert Byrd abandon the Democratic position, it would behoove Reid to figure out why. But instead of taking teh time to figure out what is going on, Reid stumbles into a bad position and looks like a chump.

Harry Reid may be a fine Senator for the state of Nevada, but he has no business as the Majority Leader. The Senate Democrats need to examine the possiblity of replacing him. Reid cannot keep the Senate moving forward and can't seem to muster his own party to follow his lead.

The immigration failure is but another step on the path fo a disgraced leader. If he won't step down, someone needs to step up and challenge him--otherwise the Democrats will look like just as big a fool as Harry Reid.

Hillary Clinton Said to Raise $27 Million in 2nd Quarter

The Politico's Ben Smith has posted an email from Howard Wolfson crowing that Hillary Clinton will raise about $27 million in the second quarter, a little more than she raised in the first quarter.

The reports will be in soon and I will get a little more detailed on them.

Senator Threatened Over Immigration Debate

Look, while I am glad the immigration bill is dead, this kind of activity is beyond the pale. No Senator, no matter what their position is, should be subject to such threats.

Look I don't like Ted Kennedy's politics and I certainly would be happy to see him retired from the Senate, but I wouldn't wish him bodily harm and I certainly wouldn't threaten him with such harm. You can hate a man's positions, but it does nothing to hate the man.

I hope that the perpetrators of such threats are caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They debase and demean those of us with truly opposing convictions.

Harry Reid Needs a Refresher on Brown v. Board

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued the following brief statement regarding the Supreme Court ruling on the racial diversity cases:
"The Supreme Court decision in the school desegregation cases is appalling. Ever since Brown v. Board of Education, it has been settled law that the Constitution requires racially mixed schools. Today's decision turns Brown upside down and ignores decades of constitutional history. If this isn't judicial activism, I don't know what is."
First, let us dispense with the "Judicial Activism" notion that Reid seems to push. Judicial activism is NOT any decision you disagree with, but rather judicial activism is taking liberty with a judicial decision to push a preferred policy outlook of the judge.

But also, Reid needs to be refreshed about the meaning of Brown v. Board. Brown v. Board dis not say schools had to be racially mixed. What Brown said was that the government could not use race as a factor in assigning children to a school. This is from the brief of Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board:
The Fourteenth Amendment precludes a state from imposing distinctions or classifications based upon race and color alone. The State of Kansas has no power thereunder to use race as a factor in affording educational opportunities to its citizens.
If Kansas had no power in 1954, Seattle and Louisville have no power today to use race as a factor in affording edcuational opportunities.

While it is true that the Constitution had not been intepreted (sadly) to require color blindness, Brown does not require racially mixed schools. It is important to note that the Seattle and Louisville schools were not racially segregated by any means, rather the programs those cities put in place sought to achieve a student body in each school roughly proportional to the population as a whole because "diversity is good."

When people like Harry Reid bastardize the meanings of important laws and cases, it makes people less knowledgeable about whatthe law really means. If the goal of policies like these is to end racial discrimination, the perhaps Chief Justice Roberts' advice is best to be heeded:
"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race....” (Emphasis added)
Sounds a lot like "Enough is enough" from the Wisconsin Right to Life case from earlier in the week.

Fourteen (14) Votes Short

The so-called bi-partisan effort at comprehensive immigration reform failed to get even a majority to vote to limit debate and move to a final vote. This pathetic showing is a testament to the power of the American people and a shocking display of poor leadership. The vote should have been a lot closer.
Voting to allow the bill to proceed by ending debate were 33 Democrats, 12 Republicans and independent Joe Lieberman, Conn. Voting to block the bill by not limiting debate were 37 Republicans, 15 Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders, Vt. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., did not vote.
15 Democrats!!! and the Socilalist Bernard Sanders!!!! Jeez, does Harry Reid have any sway over his caucus?

The defeat is a slap at two people. President Bush probably spent the last of what ever political capital he had on this doomed effort. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has proven to be stunningly ineffective as a leader.

The big winners are the Americna people. Sure we still have a problem of illegal immigration running rampant, but the American voting public has reasserted its dominion over the Senate, at least for a short time.

Now, can we talk about border security?

As she has through this whole debate, Michelle Malkin has more details, including the results of the Roll Call vote.

Bush Asserts Executive Privilege on Senate Subpeonas

Well it took him a while, but at least President Bush said no to Senate Judiciary committee subpoenas.
President Bush, moving toward a constitutional showdown with Congress, asserted executive privilege Thursday and rejected lawmakers' demands for documents that could shed light on the firings of federal prosecutors.

Bush's attorney told Congress the White House would not turn over subpoenaed documents for former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. Congressional panels want the documents for their investigations of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' stewardship of the Justice Department, including complaints of undue political influence.

The Democratic chairmen of the two committees seeking the documents accused Bush of stonewalling and disdain for the law, and said they would press forward with enforcing the subpoenas.

"With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual accommodation," White House counsel Fred Fielding said in a letter to the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. "We had hoped this matter could conclude with your committees receiving information in lieu of having to invoke executive privilege. Instead, we are at this conclusion."
Of course, if the President has said the same thing at teh start of the whole district attorney firing mess, asserting executive privilege then, we wouldn't be where we are now either.

Amnesty Bill Dead?

Fox News is reporting that the cloture vote on the amnesty/immigration bill will fail and the bill is once again dead.

Final tallies being taken now.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisville/Seattle School Diversity Plans

The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision has struck down the racial diversity plans of Louisville and Seattle.

Haven't read the whole opinion (which is 185 pages long), which can be found here.

Maryland KIPP to Stay Open Amid New Questions

The Anne Arundel County school board voted yesterday 3-2 to allow KIPP Harbor Academy to stay open in a stunning reversal.

There are now two problems--space to run the school and staffing!!
A week after announcing that an Edgewater charter school would be shuttered, its divided leadership last night formally voted for the school to remain open in a stunning turnaround.

But the 3-2 vote by the board of KIPP Harbor Academy left more questions than answers: Where the school would operate? Who would be its principal? And who would staff it since 10 of the 12 teachers have found new jobs?

"We have two teachers and one staff person. ... We're in a very difficult position," said Steve Mancini, a spokesman for the acclaimed Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP.

The decision to stay open, which came over the objections of Principal Jallon Brown, appears to keep the Harbor Academy from becoming the first among 52 KIPP schools to close because of lack of space.
So with a little less than two months before the school is to re-open, KIPP Harbor Academy lacks teachers and lacks a place to hold classes.
To keep up with the national model that calls for adding a grade a year until it has fifth through eighth grades, KIPP asked the county school board in April to lease space at Annapolis Middle School.

It has more than 900 empty seats, while KIPP needed to house 120 fifth- and sixth-graders and the expected incoming seventh-grade class of nearly 90.

The school board, however, said it needed the classrooms at Annapolis Middle for new programs and overflow space during future renovations of nearby schools.

KIPP maintained its search, pleading with churches and shopping centers, without success. Discouraged, it sent to parents a note June 20 abruptly announcing the school's immediate closure. That prompted panic - and anger - among parents and the staff.
Despite the fact that charter schools operate independent of teh bureaucratic rules that govern traditional public schools, charters have to walk through a minefield of political posturing and beg for space to hold classes. KIPP Harbor Academy's experiences are not all that new and because of all the politics surrouding the existence of charters, it is likely to face other obstacles as well.

One sort of political posturing still exists--the racial aspects. Like most charter schools in Maryland, KIPP Harbor Academy has a largely minority and poor student body:
"If this was over a bunch of white middle-class children, I guarantee you we wouldn't be facing this," said Kate Finley, a former teacher who has accepted a new job with a KIPP school in Washington. "My leaving had nothing to do with the parents, teachers or kids at Harbor Academy. I couldn't stay and work for a district that would treat its own staff and teachers this way."
Parents and community leaders are still not sure what happened or what the plan of action will be, but Finley may be right, if this were kids like the school boards kids, a plan would have been developed and in place by now.

Still no one is sure what is going to happen.

Obama Draws More Contributors

Yesterday, I noted that one thing that campaign finance reports can show is the broadness of a campaign's fundraising efforts. I noted that Obama had 25 percent more itemized contributions than Hillary Clinton. That list is a segment of the 104,000 individual contributors Obama reported after the first quarter. Now it appears as though Obama has surpassed that first quarter total:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has improved on his stunning support in the race for campaign cash, raising his total number of donors to nearly 250,000 people in the first six months of the year.

The freshman Illinois senator impressed rivals in the first quarter when he reported 104,000 donors, but he surpassed the mark in the second quarter with 138,000 more opening their wallets, the campaign told The Associated Press.

The campaign won't say yet how much the donors have given, but the large number suggests their fundraising will be competitive with the $25.7 million he raised in the first quarter. A campaign official speaking on the condition of anonymity tried to tamp down expectations by disclosing that the average donation in the second quarter is likely to be less than the roughly $247 in the first quarter.

The campaign was announcing a goal Thursday of attracting 250,000 donors by midnight on Saturday, the next money reporting deadline. It was 7,214 short as of Wednesday.

The campaign said it collected 335,953 contributions - meaning that many individuals made repeat donations - and its goal will be to reach 350,000 by the deadline.
As I said yesterday, contributors are not necessarily a representative sample of voting support, but those that give to a candidate will generally support that candidate at the polling place.

I have spent some time in the past few days looking at the front runners first quarter fundraising numbers. More return analysis on that score soon.

Men's National Soccer Team To Open Copa America Today

Coming off a win at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the United States Mens National Soccer Team opens up group play today in the Copa Ameria, a tournament of North, Central and South American teams. The team, loaded with younger players will play Argentina today, Columbia on July 2 and Paraguay on July 5. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout rounds of the tournament.

The team is young and made up of players without a great deal of international experience on the full national team level, although many have played for the U.S. side at the Under 23, Under 20 and Under 17 level. As U.S. Coach Bob Bradley noted, "This group has many of the faces that could play a role in 2008 and 2009 when our focus turns to our ultimate goal of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."
[T]here are 16 players on the roster who have 10 caps or less. Fourteen players are under the age of 25, with Eddie Gaven serving as the team’s youngest at 20 years old. There are three members of the group who are entering their first-ever camp with the MNT and will be in search of their first cap: Colorado Rapids forward Herculez Gomez, FC Dallas midfielder Drew Moor and Toronto FC defender Marvell Wynne.
Players earn a "cap" for each international match they play in with the National Team. They must have played in the game.

Of the teams in group play, Argentina will be the toughest draw. Historically, teh U.S. is 2 and 5 against the Argentines. But this young group of players have played Argentina in the U23 and U20 levels and have largely split the games.

There is one other good thing about this squad. Most play in Major League Soccer, with only six of the 22 players coming from European squads. If the U.S. makes a strong showing, it will demonstrate that the U.S. league is starting to produce players capable of playing and competing at the highest levels of international competition.

Proposal on Congressional Pay

If you are a regular person and you so suck at your job that you can't get anything done that your bosses want you to do, you get fired--unless you are a Congressman--then you can vote yourself a payraise. Well, here is an alternative from Keith D. Milby :
I propose we pay them say $2,000 multiplied by their average approval rating. So according to the Real Clear Politics average congressional ratings, which is currently 25% that would be approximately $50,000.
Hat Tip: the Instapundit.

IImmigration Bill Suffering

The big news on Memeorandum and around the blogosphere is the immigration bill. The Illegals Washington Times lead story today is the tenuous situation in which the bill and its supporters find themselves.
The Senate immigration bill lost supporters yesterday and hangs on by a thread heading into this morning's showdown vote, after lawmakers voted down amendments making illegal aliens show roots to get legal status and cutting off their path to citizenship.

This morning's vote is on a parliamentary question about limiting debate, but it boils down to a vote to block the bill.

Just two days ago, 64 senators voted to revive the bill, with many saying they wanted to give the Senate a chance to improve the bill through amendments. But after a messy day in the chamber yesterday, with dozens of objections, arguments on the floor and five amendments defeated, at least a half-dozen senators said publicly or privately that their patience has run out.

"The way this has been handled, I'm not going to take a leap of faith," said Sen. Richard M. Burr, North Carolina Republican, who voted to advance the bill on Tuesday but said the way Democratic leaders ran the floor yesterday left no room to "take a bad bill and make it better."
While bringing the bill back was a bad move, I can understand how some Senators wanted to revisit the issue, but the poor management of the process (not that there was much of a process) and the poor content of the bill and its amendment process means that cloture on the bill is not likely to pass, effectively killing the bill again.

What is surprising is the failure of the Democrats to control their own party. With a slim majority, the Democrats should be able to deliver enough votes to get the bill close to cloture with Sens. McCain and the GOP needing only to deliver 10 or 11 votes. But according to teh Times:
Democratic leaders have said they can deliver about 40 votes for the bill and called on President Bush and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to deliver at least 20 votes. Democrats said if the bill fails, Mr. Bush will get the blame.
While President Bush deserves some of the blame for this bad bill, the failure to get it through the Senate will rest on Harry Reid's shoulders. With a caucus of 51 Senators, he can deliver only 40 votes? What kind of leadership is that? What on earth is Sen. Dick Durbin (the Assistant Majority Leader--read Majority Whip) doing? His job is to deliver votes.

It says a great deal when the bill and the process are so bad that even the majority can't get 80 percent of its caucus to support it.

Lots of people will be watching closely--check Michelle Malikin's site for regular updates.

Reid on the Brink of Failure--Again

Kathryn Jean Lopez reports that one of her Senate sources says the cloture vote scheduled for later today will be close:
Vote should be close... I'll be very surprised if this bill lives beyond tomorrow morning.
Even with White House support, Reid may not be able to get this bill passed.

How lame is that?

Victory smells close--but keep up the pressure.

Panama City Florida's Illegla Immigrant Round Up Plan

Panama City Florida Sheriff Frank McKeithen is a genius and my new hero. His plan for rounding up illegal immigrants inovlves going where many of them work:
The sheriff's department has developed a remarkably effective — and controversial — way of catching illegal immigrants: Deputies in patrol cars pull up to a construction site in force, and watch and see who runs.

Those who take off are chased down and arrested on charges such as trespassing, for cutting through someone else's property, or loitering, for hiding out in someone's yard, or reckless driving, for speeding off in a car.

U.S. immigration authorities are then given the names of those believed to be in this country illegally.

"It's not wrong for them to run, but it's not wrong for us to chase them either," said Sheriff Frank McKeithen, who created his Illegal Alien Task Force in April to target construction sites in this Florida Panhandle county.
The usual suspects are up in arms over the matter. The Mexican American Legal Defense fund says McKeithen's tatics amount to intimidation. The builders that are hiring the illegal immigrants say the illegals are their best (read cheapest) labor and without them nothing is going to be built. However, McKeithen has the law on his side, it is illegal in Florida to hire illegal immigrants (of course it is illegal in the rest of the country as well).

The ACLU, not surprisingly, is also upset and calls McKeithen's tactics constitutionally suspect.
Benjamin Stevenson, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said he finds the tactic troubling.

"Why are they sending out six or seven agents to investigate a paper crime, and are they causing them to run in the first place through intimidation?" he asked.


McKeithen has asked Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum for a legal opinion on his tactics. A spokeswoman for McCollum said the office is researching the request.
What will the ACLU do if the Attorney General comes back and says, yep this is okay? You guessed it, they will sue.

In the meantime, McKeithen's methods are making in-roads--the illegal immigrants are leaving.
Mexican illegal immigrant Jose Madrid, 28, said he has been unable to find a construction job over the past six weeks because of the crackdown, and hasn't been able to send money to his parents and his 7-year-old son back home.

"We immigrants, we are leaving Panama City. People are afraid they will be deported," he said. "The companies don't want to hire illegal people. Now they're only hiring those with papers."
Of course, that is what employers are supposed to be doing.

Worlds United By Soccer

What happens when you take 11 Washington DC area girls between ages 14 and 16, supremely confident and skilled on the soccer field and less confident talking about death, HIV/AIDS and sexuality, and taken them on a trip to South Africa to meet with girls their own age who are less confident on the soccer field and more comfortable with their own sexuality and HIV/AIDS and death. The Wahsington Post has a blog called Worlds United that is telling the story from the first person accounts of the players.

This is what I love about soccer--it is universal and provides a wonderful means of exploring the world.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

McCain Campaign On Life Support?

Earlier this week there was talk of McCain dropping out of the race by Septempber, but Don Surber has a story that seems to indicate the exit might be much sooner:
Terry Nelson, campaign manager for McCain, sent out an e-mail soliciting funds. I will quote the whole thing later but here is the nut paragraph:
Remember that each donation you make, no matter if it is $100 or $1,000, will go toward helping us reach our goal of raising $3 million by June 30th.
$3 million? That’s it? That is not even 1/4 of the measly $13 million he raised in the first 3 months — an effort that was well behind the $23 million Mitt raised and the $16 million that Rudy raised.

And both of them were thumped in money grubbing by Hillary and Obama.
Surber points out the the campaign is on life support and while last minute pitches for money are not unusual in the days just prior to the fundraising deadline, the whole text of the email smacks of desperation. Here is teh full text courtesy of Surber:
Summer is officially here and I don’t know about you, but to me summer has always been a time to enjoy outdoor activities with friends and family. No matter what your summer activities may include, I’m sure you’ll want to stand out from the crowd as a John McCain supporter.

One way you can stand out is with the official McCain 2008 polo shirt with a generous donation today of $100 or more. With a donation of $150 or more, we’ll send you two polo shirts.

As supporters of John McCain, we know that he is the right man to lead our nation as we face tough challenges. Now is the time to stand with the Senator and show our support for him. We know that John McCain is the right man to reduce wasteful spending in Washington, serve as our Commander in Chief and fight for our common sense conservative values in the White House. As his team of supporters, it is our job to ensure he gets to the White House.

Folks, we are only three days away from our next important campaign deadline. June 30th marks the end of the second quarter, and our campaign will be filing our financial statement with the FEC. Your immediate help is needed to meet our goal during these final three days.

Remember that each donation you make, no matter if it is $100 or $1,000, will go toward helping us reach our goal of raising $3 million by June 30th. And with your contribution of $100 or more today, we will send you an official McCain 2008 polo shirt.
Gifts and such are not uncommon, but polo shirts cost money and while it is less than $100 per shirt, the expense does not justify the contribution.

This is probably a sign of defeat--at least Tom Vilsack had enough pride to say he couldn't go it, McCain will have to be proven that he has no legs in this campaign.

The Pitfalls of a Technology Campaign

A piece by Kathleen Parker has been making the round of the top websites, mostly without comment or without lots of comment regarding what Parker doesn't say.

What Parker does say is that we may not really want a President who is so in tune with pop culture that he or she forgets about the rest of the non-plugged in country. Parker also suggests that technology, particuarly the web, will play an important part in the campaign, but not the most important part.

What Parker doesn't say, but certainly implies, is that candidates, all agog with the latest internet craze, cannot forget about good old fashioned, retail politics. Making the connection with voters has probably never been more important, but that connection cannot be over a broadband internet service for most Americans. They still want to see their candidates in teh flesh and they want their candidates to deal with real, flesh and blood issues.

At the end of the week, the Presidential candidates will close out their second quarter fundraising and FEC reports will be due on July 15. One of the things that can be extrapolated from these reports is not about money, but about people and appeal. Sure fundraising is important that the total cash brought in will still remain the horse race of choice amoung the press. But dig a little deeper and you can see something a little more important, how broad the base of support is.

Take for example, the leading two Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In their first quarter fundraising, leaving out the $10 million Clinton transferred from her Seante campaign, the two candidates were remarkably close in fundraising. But if you look at some other data, you find that Obama's appeal is a bit more broad based. First, Obama had itemized contributions from individuals totaling 20,399 records, some of which were duplicate people. That is some 25 percent larger than Clinton's 16,190 records.

While I don't know if Obama is a better grassroots campaigner, his organziation seems to be much more grassroots that Clinton's. That, above all other reasons, is why Obama is such a challenge. Even granting that contributors are not necessarily a representative sample of voters, the fact taht Obama is raising smaller amounts of money from fewer people means that his campaign is casting a wider net. Remember, that people who contribute money to a candidate are far more likely to vote for that candidate--they have not only a political interest but now a financial interest in the candidate's success.

The key take away from Parker and from analysis of the FEC reports is that you can't just use technology to win a campaign--politics is still, after all is said and done, about people.

A Visitor's View of Washington, DC

I have lived and worked in the Washington, DC for the better part of 20 years and to a certain extent, I have come to accept my surroudings as normal. That is why when I read visitor's accounts of their trip to Washington, DC, I get a reminder of the grandeur and permanence of this place. Darren from Right on the Left Coast talks about his visit.

Global Warming?

Two stories that provide anecdotal evidence to counter global warming hoopla: Johannesburg, South Africa got 4 inches of snow, its first snowfall in 16 years!!!

Australian citrus farmers are hoping that the coldest June day ever recorded will not hurt their crops.

Apparently "global" warming is a northern hemisphere issue.

Recording Industry Going Off the Deep End?

An Oregon woman has sued the Recording Industry Assocation of America in response to what she calls abusive tactics by the RIAA, including threats to "interrogate" the woman's ten-year-old daughter.
The recording industry sued Tanya J. Andersen, 44, in 2005, accusing her of violating copyright laws by illegally downloading music onto her computer. Andersen claims in a suit she filed last week in U.S. District Court in Oregon that the recording industry refused to drop its case after its own expert supported her claims of innocence.

Instead, industry officials threatened to interrogate Andersen's 10-year-old daughter, Kylee, if she didn't pay thousands of dollars. The intimidation included attempts to contact Kylee directly. A woman claiming to be Kylee's grandmother called the girl's former elementary school inquiring about her attendance, according to Andersen's suit.

The recording industry dropped its lawsuit June 1.

Jonathan Lamy, a spokesman for the recording industry association, said he respectfully declined to comment on the specifics of Andersen's case.
As a result of file-sharing and illegal downloading, the RIAA says its artists and members have lost billions of dollars in revenue.
So the industry started taking legal action against individual computer users it accuses of illegally downloading music -- 21,000 people since 2003.

Tanya Andersen was one of those people.

She said she received a letter in 2005 from a Los Angeles law firm accusing her of illegally downloading music. As directed, she called the Settlement Support Center, which Andersen's suit called the "debt-collection arm" of the recording industry's campaign.

Andersen said she had never illegally downloaded music but was told she had to pay $4,000 to $5,000 or she would be ruined financially.

An employee said he believed she was innocent, according to the suit.

"He explained, however, that defendants would not quit their attempts to force payment from her because to do so would encourage other people to defend themselves," the suit says.
If there is any kernal of truth in this case, this looks really, really bad for the RIAA. According to the story, Andersen proved that she was not the person who had downloaded the music, after finding the person who did so (and admitted to doing it), Andersen provided the information to the RIAA--which promptly ignored the matter.

So instead of being the suer, the RIAA is the sued and probably rightfully so.

Foot and A Half of Rain in Texas Overnight

Overnight last nigh, 18 inches of rain fell on parts of Texas, creating serious flooding and other hazards.

All I can say is Wow!!

The midwest is getting slapped around with rain, meanwhile parts of the southeast are in major drought conditions. Weird.

What Is It With People These Days?

Two Florida women were arrested and charged with lewd conduct for having sex with each other in a public bathroom in front of children.

Apparently common sense is a precious commodity these days.

Pot, Meet Kettle

Barak Obama questions Hillary Clinton's fitness to lead the nation.

Yeah--that's funny.

Do NOT Try to Pick This Guy's Pocket

Bill Barnes, a former marine from Comstock Park, MI taught a would-be pickpocket a lesson
says he was scratching off a losing $2 lottery ticket inside a gas station when he felt a hand slip into his front-left pants pocket, where he had $300 in cash.

He immediately grabbed the person's wrist with his left hand and started throwing punches with his right, landing six or seven blows before a store manager intervened.
Barnes, in addition to being a former Marine, was also a Golden Gloves champion and a retired steelworker.

Wrong target indeed.

Mario Cuomo Calls for Ideas

The New York Times' Patrick Healy has an interview with former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who has been sending around a newsletter talking about the big issues of the day--something he points out that most presidential candidates are not doing:
The Update reads like a set of talking points for the most serious of policy wonk Cassandras who believe that politicians are ignoring looming threats at the nation’s peril: Iraq, health care, Medicare and Medicaid, the Middle East, global warming, immigration, trade and budget deficits, and so on.


“This is getting to be obvious: you have more specific, big issues now than usual, and they are compelling issues, and we’re not getting answers,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Most of all we don’t get an answer on Iraq. The Democrats specifically, or implicitly, say they would end the war when they took over Congress. And they haven’t ended the war; there is not a good answer. And the presidential candidates are mostly ducking.

“The thing is, the candidates all have answers,” Mr. Cuomo added. “But they don’t want to give their answers, because if it’s an issue, it is by definition controversial.”

Take taxes, Mr. Cuomo said. The three leading Democratic candidates - Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards - have all indicated - Mr. Edwards most vociferously - that they would roll back the tax cuts for the most wealthy Americans that President Bush and the former Republican-led Congress enacted. But otherwise, there is not enough honest talk, Mr. Cuomo said.

“They don’t want to talk about other taxes they might raise, or what the definition of middle class is for the purposes of tax cuts or tax increases,” Mr. Cuomo said. “They don’t want to get into that because they say, ’People will misunderstand if the Republicans attack us or lie about our plans,’ and they will get hurt as a result.”
This is part of the problem with the current political climate. During the campaign season two things happen. Cuomo touches on one, that candidates don't want to talk seriously about the issues because they are afraid of the attack ads. But if they are serious about their positions, and we have no reason to doubt them, then they should also be prepared to defend their position. However, in defending the position, you wed yourself more to the position, making it more difficult to shift stances later. This is wrong and the American public should hold the candidates feet to the fire and ask for specifics.

The other problem is that candidates, in staking out their positions, tend to think of voters as stupid. While the average voter is not a rocket scientist or a policy wonk, the truly great leaders and communicators can break a problem down so that average people can understand it without being condescending and then explain their proposed solution to the people. But often times candidates will give the actual or equivalent words "well, its complicated."

We know it is complicated, we are not stupid. But we are being asked to vote for candidates who give us that line and then move on. But if you are asking us to support you, we need to know that you understand the problem and have at least an inkling of how to solve it.

Look at all the big time issues facing this country. Iraq and the Middle East, Muslim extremism, Iran, immigration, education, budget and governmental spending, tax policy, entiltment programs in need of reform, the baby boomers aging, Russia, China, Europe. That is just a quick list and while I don't expect an answer on every one of these matters, the candidates do need to offer ideas.

In teh end, that is what Cuomo wants and what the American public wants--ideas.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fighting the War On Terror and Lacking Principles

Earlier this week, with my brother in Iraq and my brother-in-law getting ready to go, my mother and I talked about what will happen after the presidential election. She seems to think that if Hillary or another Democrat wins, we will get out and if the GOP wins we will stay in. I responded by saying that we will have a presence, it will be a big presences but shuffled around. The effect of the shuffling is hard to predict, but it won't be what we see today.

The reasons are simple--even under Democratic leadership, the U.S. cannot afford to lose face in the eyes of the world to a bunch of self-destructive, extremist rage mongers. To do so will not only weaken our position abroad, but will weaken our position at home. No matter what the next president's thoughts are on the Bush policies in Iraq, they will not be able to escape the fact that they have inherited the problem and must deal with the situation as it is, not as they wanted it to be during the campaign.

To be sure, a new strategy and tactics will no doubt be explored and probably need to be explored even now. But simply abandoning Iraq will solve no problems in the region and really just exacerbate a society teetering on lawlessness.

If Democratic claims as to the situtation in Iraq are to be taken at face value, that Iraq is involved in a civil war, then removing the only force capable of imposing any kind of security or safety for that majority of the population consigns those who are simple innocent bystanders to a longer period of misery, followed by unimaginable death and ultimately another form of Islamic inspired dictatorship. While it may be arguable as to whether the United States is capable of extending peach and security on a wide scale absent active engagement of a solid government, not being in place guarantees failure and death.

But one wonders what kind of leadership the Democratic candidates can exert on the matter. Democrats have taken as a point of pride that they follow the lead of the rest of the "civilized world" and prefer a hands off approach to Iraq. But as Philip Mella writes:
Further, other than Senator Joseph Lieberman, no one seems willing to declare that if we have evidence that Iran is providing munitions used to kill American soldiers it will result in a military strike. We seem to have succumbed to the fear that if we attack our enemies it will incite them, which is a patently defeatist strategy. The same anemic approach seems to be in play in many of our negotiations which begin by asking the enemy how many concessions they're willing to accept.

No nation ever won a war by predicating its strategy on a degree of capitulation. This, of course, is like no war America has ever fought and it could not have happened a worse moment in its history, one where principles and the resolve that emanates from them are endangered, creating a dangerous leadership vacuum.

Our choices are few and our prospects aren't terribly encouraging, but one thing is certain: If the Democrats win the White House in 2008 we can be assured that America will become just another political proxy of the EU, a docile and subservient lapdog, obliged to ask permission before defending its sovereignty.

Democrats, of course, would deny that, but judging by their performance in Vietnam, not to mention the 1990s, during which the Clinton Administration gutted the military and effectively ignored the nascent terrorist threat, their counterarguments are less than convincing.
As the presidential primary season presses closer to us, we are going to need some details from all candidates on what they would do in Iraq and so far, we have heard nothing but platitudes and soundbites attacking the Bush policy. Any moron can be against a policy, it takes a real leader to announce plans and formulate strategies. I hope we are not left with a moron in the White House in January 2009.

Talk Radio Imbalance

In response to the liberal report of the Center for American Progress on the ideological imbalance in talk radio, Rich Lowry makes a couple of important points. First,
[t]his is a pinched view of radio. There are upwards of 2,000 talk stations in the country that deal with news and issues, according to Michael Harrison of Talkers magazine, and they encompass all sorts of formats from National Public Radio to urban radio to shock jocks, none of which are dominated by right wingers. Conservative talk radio is a vibrant niche within that market, but there are many other places to go for news and opinion.

What is hard to find are liberal replicas of Rush Limbaugh, and that is due to the deepest structural imbalance of all — talent. Limbaugh and other top conservative talkers are silver-tongued, informative, and — importantly — entertaining. These are qualities that can’t be conjured out of nowhere, and designated liberal-radio saviors have tended not to have the requisite talent “on loan from God” (as Limbaugh puts it).
So the right mix of information and entertainment are key. I like Limbaugh, I find him engaging on a level that other conservative talk show hosts don't, such as Sean Hannity (who tends to be a little too emphatic and loose with facts), Mark Levin (who I find shrill on most topics but very solid when dealing with the legal system), Michael Savage (who is downright rude). Similarly, guys like Glenn Beck appeal for the same reason as Limbaugh. Beck and Limbaugh take their subject matter seriously, but they don't take themselves seriously, which makes for a fun three hours.

Lowry continues:
Broadcasters go where the money is. If a liberal could draw the kind of listeners — and hence the kind of advertising dollars — as Limbaugh, he too would be on more than 600 stations. This is why Spanish-language radio is such a growth commodity. Not because broadcasters have an agenda to Hispanicize America, or because there’s a structural imbalance that favors Spanish-language over German- or French-language programming, but because there’s an audience for it.

The Center for American Progress wants to short-circuit the market. Having bureaucrats determine whether radio stations are serving the public interest is inherently dangerous. There are times — like now, in the debate about the immigration bill — when Democrats and Republicans in Washington will agree that conservative talk radio is not serving the public interest, because it brings to the table public sentiment that the establishment prefers to ignore.
I had said this earlier, talk radio is still a business and business needs income to survive. In radio, income comes from advertisers and advertisers go where there are listners--plain and simple.

When liberal talk show hosts display that same level of informativeness, accuracy and entertainment of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and others of their ilk, you will see more liberal talk radio. Until then, they will be in the hinterlands of the broadcasting businees because in the end, radio is a business--not a government information agency.

Immigration and Diversity Short Term Effects Not So Good

John Leo discusses the recent findings of Robert Putnam (author of Bowling Alone) that Putnam himself is reluctant to publish because they may become part of and improperly alter the immigration debate:
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.

Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”
What is interesting about all this is that I see it in my own life--which disburbs me.

My neighborhood is pretty diverse with Argentians, Costa Ricans, Indians and annoying New York Jerks(they have this superiority complex that is annoying and believe that we "southerners" are beneath contempt--they are living here because the Army assigned them here) living on my court of townhouses. While everyone is pleasant to each other, there is little social interaction. The only time I have spoken to my neighbors in recent weeks other than to say hello is when the Homeowners Association wasted our due money repaving the sidewalks for no reason. We are a diverse neighborhood and we have hunkered down, just like Putnam said.
Putnam has long been aware that his findings could have a big effect on the immigration debate. Last October, he told the Financial Times that “he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity.” He said it “would have been irresponsible to publish without that,” a quote that should raise eyebrows. Academics aren’t supposed to withhold negative data until they can suggest antidotes to their findings.

Nor has Putnam made details of his study available for examination by peers and the public. So far, he has published only an initial summary of his findings, from a speech he gave after winning an award in Sweden, in the June issue of Scandinavian Political Studies. His office said Putnam is in Britain, working on a religion project at the University of Manchester, and is currently too busy to grant an interview.

Putnam’s study does make two positive points: in the long run, increased immigration and diversity are inevitable and desirable, and successful immigrant societies “dampen the negative effects of diversity” by constructing new identities. Social psychologists have long favored the optimistic hypothesis that contact between different ethnic and racial groups increases tolerance and social solidarity. For instance, white soldiers assigned to units with black soldiers after World War II were more relaxed about desegregation of the army than were soldiers in all-white units. But Putnam acknowledges that most empirical studies do not support the “contact hypothesis.” In general, they find that the more people are brought into contact with those of another race or ethnicity, the more they stick to their own, and the less they trust others. Putnam writes: “Across local areas in the United States, Australia, Sweden Canada and Britain, greater ethnic diversity is associated with lower social trust and, at least in some cases, lower investment in public goods.”

Though Putnam is wary of what right-wing politicians might do with his findings, the data might give pause to those on the left, and in the center as well. If he’s right, heavy immigration will inflict social deterioration for decades to come, harming immigrants as well as the native-born. Putnam is hopeful that eventually America will forge a new solidarity based on a “new, broader sense of we.” The problem is how to do that in an era of multiculturalism and disdain for assimilation.

Do-Nothing Congress and the Immigration Bill

Rick Moran correctly points out a reason for teh resurrection of the anmesty monstrosity--Congress hasn't done a thing this year, particularly when it comes to anything the Democratic leaders claimed they were going to do.
The reason is simple; this has been a do-nothing Congress from the start. The best laid plans of the new Democratic majority to change the culture in Congress, end the war, and force changes in Medicare (among other proposals the Dems promised voters last November) have mostly fallen by the wayside or been torpedoed by their own members.

This has Congress scrambling to do something before voters begin to notice and wonder why their Congressmen are getting paid 165 grand a year to essentially sit on their collective behinds and rake in donations from lobbyists and cronies.

It has always been America’s “Persian Flaw” – this belief that we send people to Congress in order to “solve problems” like immigration, poverty, or filling in that pothole down the street. Some problems simply aren’t solvable in any real sense by Congress (call your local mayor about the pothole, please) and in fact, fiddling with legislation that purports to do so can make the problem worse.

The immigration bill is a case in point. No one in Congress really believes the bill will “solve” anything except perhaps resolving their electoral problems by bringing a lot of Latino votes their way come November, 2008. It won’t stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States and it is an open question whether it will even slow it down. It may even lead to increased illegals crossing the border hoping that within the next few years, Congress will once again address the issue of illegal immigration by simply declaring lawbreakers as law abiding non-citizens provided they pay up and can prove they’re not out to blow up the Statue of Liberty.
This Congress is dying a death much faster than the GOP majority ever did. As they get ready to head home for the July 4th recess, they Senate in particular needs to look like it is doing something and thus amnest bill.

What a disaster. I would rather they pass a bill to build a bridge to nowhere, at least we would get something for our tax dollars, and least be able to blow it up and sell it for scrap. Can't do that with Senators' salaries.

Reid Plan for Immigration Bill

Pajamas Media's Richard Miniter has report that there may be a plan in the Democratic camp to use a series of unusual parliamentary maneuvers to push the immigration bill through TODAY!!
If 60 Senators vote to make S. 1639 the pending business in the Senate on Tuesday, June 26,(already done) Sen. Reid will immediately take the floor of the Senate and offer a 1st degree amdt. to S. 1639, and ask for the yeas and nays. This guarantees a roll call vote will occur on this amdt.

He will then send a 2nd degree amdt to the desk and ask for the yeas and nays. This achieves the same for the 2nd degree amdt. He will then ask that the amdt. to be divided.
This amdt will automatically be divided into sections that can stand alone as individual amdts. In other words, his second degree amdt. may have 18 sections, and by using this procedure, he has now put in place 18 amdts. Since the yeas and nays were ordered, so he has now been guaranteed a roll call vote will occur on all of these sections by using the Rules of the Senate.

These sections are presumably going to contain the text of amdts he believes Republican and Democratic Senators wanted to offer when the Senate debated the last immigration bill a few weeks ago.

Now no other amdts are in order since he has placed his amdts in these specific places in the amendment process allowed by the Senate Rules. No other Senator can stop him from using these maneuvers since Sen. Reid has priority recognition over all other United States Senators. By Sen. Reid using this amendment process and calling for a division of his amdt., he can guarantee Senators that votes will occur on issues he has chosen to offer and on issues he believes will please enough Senators as to earn the 60 votes necessary to invoke cloture and pass the bill.

Sen. Reid will then send a cloture motion to the desk setting up the cloture vote for Thursday. The bill is now pending but no Senator can offer amdts because he is blocking them by using his priority recognition and offering his own amdts.

If 60 Senators vote on Thursday to limit debate on S. 1639, at the end of the 30 hours allowed by Senate Rule 22, votes will automatically begin, without further debate, on all of the Reid amdts in a back-to-back sequence. The final vote will be a vote on Final Passage of S. 1639, the Kennedy Immigration bill.
While my knowledge of Senate rules is limited, this looks accurate and I will defer to Miniter's source as emminently more qualified than I.

The Bad Vibe Of Amnesty Bill

NRO's Stanley Kurtz has a bad vibe about the immigration bill and I can't say I blame him. Something
about this immigration battle doesn’t sit well. For all the bitterness of our political battles, there’s at least the sense that the government responds to the drift of public opinion. The Republicans in Congress turned into big spenders and the war in Iraq went poorly. As a result the Democrats prospered in 2006, if narrowly. That’s how democracy works. Our politics are often angry and ugly (and that’s a problem), but this is because the public is deeply divided on issues of great importance. Deep down, we understand that our political problems reflect our own divisions.

Somehow this immigration battle feels different. The bill is wildly unpopular, yet it’s close to passing. The contrast with the high-school textbook version of democracy is not only glaring and maddening, it’s downright embarrassing. Usually, even when we’re at each others’ throats, there’s still an underlying pride in the democratic process. This immigration battle strips us of even that pride.
Any serious student of Congress quickly learns that the high civics book description of the legislative process is incomplete. But most of the differences are based upon procedures and pesonalities. For example, if you are in the minority, your chances of getting a bill passed into law depend greatly upon whether you can get an important chairman on your side. The bill still goes through the committee process, but the wheels grind more smoothly if you have help.

But what I think is bothering people about the immigration bill is not just the content of the bill (which offends a great many people--citizens and immigrants alike), but the manner in which the normal rules of consideration have been flouted. The disdain for procedure should provoke men like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Robert Byrd, institutionalists to the core, to stand up and rail against the liberties taken with this bill.

The whole nasty taste of the procedures and the substance of the bill have some similarities--both will reward the blatant flouting of the rules. The immigration bill, amnest bill, will reward the illegal immigrants to ignored our laws an invaded our country--giving them amnesty because some members of the Senate want to be viewed as "good guys." At the same time, the backroom deal and bypassing of the committee process in the Senate means that the sponsors of this monstrosity will be rewarded for ignoring the very rules of procedure they claim in other instances to cherish.

Rules, immigration and Senate are there for a reason and shouldn't be ingorned for economic or polical expendience.

Fred Thompson on Sir Salman Rushdie

The British recently knighed Sir Salman Rushdie and there was predictable outrage in the extremist Muslim community about the move. Fred Thompson makes a wonderful point about the matter:
I was also impressed by the knighthood of author Salman Rushdie and the British reaction to the predictable outrage that followed.

That's not to say I'm a big fan of the British-Indian novelist. I don't agree with a lot of his criticism he's made of America and the UK in the past. But that's the point, really. In the West, we can disagree strongly with someone without issuing fatwas and calling for his death. We can even honor someone with whom we disagree.

In 1989, when Rushdie was first threatened with death by the Islamic regime in Iran, it was for saying far less critical things about Muslims than he’d said about American Christians. Since then, he's become a much stronger critic of Islamic intolerance and authoritarianism. Rushdie defended, for example, the publication of the Danish cartoons and has called for ending the oppression of women in Islam.

While Queen Elizabeth doesn't actually select those who’ll be knighted, lending her name to the honor is symbolically powerful. She and the honors committee who have put the "Sir" before Rushdie's name had to have known that it would provoke anger among those who believe Islam should be protected from criticism. Furthermore, Rushdie had to have known that accepting the honor would prompt renewed and serious calls for his murder -- and it has.

Already, Britain's Home Secretary John Reid has responded to a Pakistani government minister's comment that Rushdie’s knighthood justifies a suicide bombing on the writer. Standing by the knighthood, Reid reminded his international audience that the West tolerates movies made by Monty Python and Mel Gibson even if they offend Christians and Jews. Reid said that, "in the long run, our protection of the right to express your views in literature, argument (and) politics is of over-riding political value to our societies."

And for that, I say, “God Save the Queen.”
Of course, what Thompson leaves out is that Western society is all the more stronger because of dissent and disagreement.

Teacher Quality Stats: Experience Matters

It has been a bit longer to post on this subject than I had intended, but personal and professional matters have gotten in the way of what is becoming my hobby on finding new ways to measure teachers' effectiveness. If you are looking for more posts on this subject, please see the Topic Teacher Quality Stats on the left.

In this post I would like to talk about something fairly common sensical--teacher experience. I hope to add some additional ideas into the mix about how we as consumers of education look at matters of teacher experience and how those of us looking to improve the quality of education look at experience as a factor in teacher effectiveness. In this post, I will talk about time in service, i.e., the number of years of experience a teacher has; time in position, that is the number of years a teacher as worked at a given school, and time in class, which I define as the number of years working in a grade level for elementary teachers and/or subject matter for secondary teachers.

Time In Service.
When looking at teacher experience, we generally look at one number--the number of years a teacher has been doing their job. After all, this is a relatively easy number to figure out--simply count the number of years since that teacher started teaching and then subtract out any gaps for say a sabbatical or maternity/paternity leave. Voila, there you have an experience statistic--number of years on the job. Given that everyone improves in their job over time as they become more confident and more experienced, measuring the length of service of a teacher is a reasonable, and respectable, measure.

This is not an irrelevant statistic, just an incomplete one. Studies have shown that most teacher rapidly gain effectiveness in teaching in the late second to the fifth year of experience. Thus, one would reasonably predict a teacher in their fifth year to be more effective than a teacher in their second year of teaching. One could also assume that a teacher with 20 years of experience would be more effective than a teacher with 10 years of experience. However, that has not proven to be the case, as teacher effectiveness tends to level off after the fifth year of experience.

But can we break down teacher experience a little deeper to find some methods, manner and or procedures that can lengthen the learning and effectiveness curve of teachers beyond five years. From a procedural standpoint, one way to increase teacher effectiveness over a longer period of time might be to alter than school operations to involve a more collegial atmosphere. Susan J. Rosenholtz studied the effects of teacher quality and the school's organization, arguing many times that an atmosphere that encourages interaction and learning from each other produces teachers more likely to continue to develop their effectiveness.

So one measure of teacher experience would be to also look at the relative collegiality of the school in which the teacher works. While it may be hard to fully quantify something like collegiality you could develop an arbitrary scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is the least collegial--say barely any talking in the teacher's lounge and 5 is the most collegial, using team teaching, fully developed mentorship programs, regular peer appraisals outside of performance appraisals, lesson plan review and critique, regular departmental and interdepartmental conferences on teaching techniques, etc. In short, how much support and input from fellow teachers of all experience levels do the teachers in a school get. If a collegial atmosphere is fostered by the school administrator, it is possible that the teachers themselves will produce more experience beyond the simple count of years in the classroom.

Time in service is, in reality, a limited measure. After five years, studies seem to point to little statistical significance in effectiveness between a five year teacher and a ten year teacher. If the goal is to extend the time in service for teachers, then we must look to other factors that can be used to judge teacher quality. The degree of collegiality and how it impacts a teachers effectiveness and quality after the first five years hints at something that many people who have studied teachers and teaching have guessed as an impact. External stimuli and challenges often create additional experiences which lead to greater quality in teachers.

Given that teaching is, by and large, a solitary experience for the teacher, finding ways to stimulate the teacher would seem to be a plus for school systems. Increasing the collegiality of a school certainly seems to help and should be implemented as best as possible. But collegiality may only go so far and other measures must be examined.

Time in Position.
If collegiality is a factor in teacher experience and quality, what about a negative factor as well, complacency. When a person has worked in the same place of for a number of years, in the same job, it is easy to get complacent; to take certain things for granted. While the influx of new children each year may lessen the impact or extend the period before complacency takes hold, it is a natural progression. However, unlike collegiality, complacency has something of a built-in indicator, the number of years in a particular school, or time in position.

If the number of years of teaching can be referred to as time in service, time in position would be simply the number of years a teacher has been at the school where she works. So far, in my research (which admittedly is not exhaustive), I have found little on this question of time in position on teacher quality. Hypothetically, the time in position would add to teacher effectiveness in the first few years in much the same way the first five years of time in service works, quality and effectiveness would increase significantly over the first five year in position as the teacher learns and adapts to the school, the administration, her peers, and the neighborhood and its students. As more and more understanding of the people and their neighborhood increases so too does that teacher's effectiveness at that school. But as the five year mark passes, the teacher's effectiveness may begin to slow in its growth.

One implication of this hypothesis would be that some slow teacher mobility may actually be a good thing both for the teacher and the school system. In general, society and parents have looked at the longer time a teacher has at the school, the better or more effective their teaching is. However, if the hypothesis of time in position being similar to time in service holds true, the after five or six years, a teacher may actually stop growing in terms of effectiveness at one school. If time in position approached five, six or seven years, it may behoove both the teacher and the school to transfer to another school for a period of five or six years. Since the population of the school's students turns over every five or six years, there can be some continuity for students and teachers, but with a transfer every five or six year, the teacher is "refreshed" by the challenges of a new environment and colleagues in much the same way as a new teacher is challenged during the first few years in service.

The primary difference, however between a new teacher and a transferred teacher is that a transferred teacher comes to the school with skills and knowledge of an experienced teacher. They may be able to make an immediate impact in the new environment, an impact that a new teacher may not be able to make.

Time in Class.
If time in service and time in position argue for regular, if long term, changes in teacher assignments, time in class would arguably work in the opposite direction. Time in class is the time in which a given teacher has been teaching at a particular grade level for elementary students or a particular subject area for secondary teachers. Again, this is a simply calculation of time.

Time in class is predicated upon a teacher subject area knowledge, more than his or her skill as a teacher. Thus, an elementary school teacher that works with second grade students would be expected to understand the physical, emotional and educational development of seven and eight year olds (those children most likely to be in her class). The more time a teacher spends with such students, the more experience she would gain as a result of the regular and repeated interactions, even thought the class roster might change from year to year. Similarly a secondary teacher who teaches say, American History, would be expected to develop a deeper and broader understanding of the subject, as well as how to teach that subject as she gains more experience in the class.

If time in service and time in position can be graphed in a curvilinear fashion, that is a steep increase in effectiveness in the early years followed by a steady decrease in the rate of growth after year five or six, time in grade would, ideally, have a relatively constant growth pattern, with perhaps some spikes based upon a master's degree or other professional development instruction.

However, in order to achieve a time in class chart of steady growth, teachers would have to have a professional development program based upon subject matter expertise rather than on the current fad in education or pedagogy. Thus, elementary teachers would have to have a professional development program based upon the psychology and physiology of their students at a given age, as well the latest changes in curricula and pedagogy. Secondary teachers would need professional development strongly related to their subject matter. Ideally, subject matter seminars presenting the latest information in their fields would form the basis of the a secondary professional development.

In addition to primary subject matter professional development, schools should look to expand teacher skills and knowledge into other subject matters. According to the NCES many teachers are not teaching in their field. Given the push by NCLB and the general public for highly qualified teachers, why not embrace diversity of assignment and allow teachers to explore other fields in which they may have an interest and aptitude. Would the teacher have a degree in the field? Perhaps, if schools and school systems would equate a second bachelor's degree on par with or even more valuable than a master's degree.

Imagine, a science teacher who teaches chemistry and/or physics must have a solid grounding in mathematics. What if that teacher were to obtain a second bachelor's degree in mathematics? Given that obtaining a second bachelor's degree would take roughly the same time as a master's degree without all that attendant "general education" requirements most colleges have, the economics are not all that different for schools or the teachers. Now that teacher is qualified to teach both science and math. The resulting diversity in subject matter and the ability of the teacher to meet multiple needs for the school keeps that teacher engaged, and effective. Just as adding to a subject matter knowledge is important for secondary teachers, having different knowledge allows for a deeper understanding of both knowledge fields.

Time in class may be different for most teachers than their time in service. Indeed, elementary school teachers may start teaching first graders, but a few years later move to third or fifth graders. Each time, a new time in class clock begins. Similarly, secondary education teachers may have five classes of history and one class of government, each with a different time in class "clock." Time in class is a bit more precise than simply time in service and allows for other comparison and measurement. Indeed as the NCES study points out, many of the measurements of teacher assignments and "out-of-field" teaching are either over or under inclusive. Some provide a bit more precision, such as percentage of course and percentage of students measurements. (see discussion on pages 11-12) When combining the later two, in particular the percentage of students measurements, with a time in class clock, you can get an accurate measure of how much time a student spends with a "out-of-field" teacher and perhaps measure the impact upon their learning.

Time in a classroom and experience as a teacher are undoubtedly important measurements of teacher quality. As we have learned in multiple manners, the quality of education a child receives is greatly dependent upon the quality of that child's teachers. While it would be great to have nothing but experienced teachers with impeccable academic credentials, such a Stepford school system is impossible. But if schools could look beyond simple measures of seniority and experience found in a time in service measure, much could be learned about teacher effectiveness.

In large part, much of this post is somewhat hypothetical and based upon conjecture. Right now the only measure of experience regularly used is time in service and as we have learned, time in service as a predictor of teacher quality tends to diminish after year five in the classroom. While school conditions such as a collegial atmosphere or other outside inputs may enhance more senior teacher effectiveness, it may not be enough to truly make an impact.

But delving deeper, if we studied effectiveness of teachers based on their time in position as well, we may see a similar pattern. A steep increase in the first five years followed by a reduction in rate of growth after a teacher has spent time in a particular school. But since a teacher with five or six years of time in service may but transfers to a new school and thus resets her time in position clock has the advantage of time in service.

Time in class, however, is different because as a teacher spends more time in a given grade level or subject matter their actual effective would, one would hope, increase or at the very least grow on a geometric progression. While subject matter knowledge may be based in large part upon the prior education of the teacher, the key to successfully using time in class measurement will be found in the effective use of professional development. A poor professional development program for teachers, particularly secondary school teachers, will likely negate any effectiveness benefit gained from a teacher with significant time in class.

Regardless, more research on the impact of time in position and time in class needs to be done. Simply measuring time in service loses its relevance after too short a period and runs counter to the effort to identify and retain truly effective teachers. If we can find out where and how teachers lose the the effectiveness increases of their early careers, school systems can fashion policies, such as transfer policies and professional development programs that can keep the effectiveness curve as steep as possible much to the benefit of our students.

NRO on Campaign Finance

The Editors of National Review comment on the Wisconsin Right to Life decision:
The campaign-finance regulators have, we must admit, a certain internal logic to their case. If corporations must be prohibited from contributing to political candidates because of the danger of corruption, then presumably they must also be prohibited from running advertisements for or against candidates: Such advertisements would be the functional equivalent of contributions. They, too, could prove corrupting. And if an advertisement saying that “Senator X should be defeated” must be banned, then so too should an advertisement saying “Senator X’s bill would destroy America.” An advertisement that appears to concern a public-policy issue may really be a campaign ad in disguise.
Oh, the horror!! (Sorry couldn't help myself).
Yesterday, the Court ruled that it would be unconstitutional to apply these restrictions too broadly. If an advertisement “may reasonably be interpreted as something other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate,” then it should be treated as an issue ad and thus exempted from the regulations. Five justices agreed with that result. Three justices — in order of seniority, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas — would have gone further. They argue, persuasively, that the First Amendment does not allow the government to distinguish between “genuine” and “sham” policy advocacy for the purpose of triggering regulations.

Four justices — John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer — dissented. Allowing sham issue ads, they argue, would increase public “cynicism” by creating the appearance of corruption. Both parts of that argument depart from the Constitution’s standards. Actual corruption is illegal. A false perception of corruption cannot justify restrictions on free speech. Combating cynicism, meanwhile, is not a legitimate task of the government, and certainly not a justification for limiting speech: Otherwise every edition of every newspaper could be censored.
One could reasonably argue that the public's cycnicism regarding government has actually increased during the time of McCain-Feingold--certainly it has not improved any.