12 September 2012

A simple and obvious solution to the Chicago teachers strike

As we all know by now, the Chicago Teachers Union has gone on strike. Among the many articles I've seen, this tidbit really jumped out at me:

On Monday, 25,000 Chicago teachers (average salary: $76,000 before benefits) walked out of their classrooms, leaving nearly 350,000 schoolchildren and their parents in the lurch. 
I know what you're thinking - that's a lot of money. What I noticed, though, was that apparently Chicago has one teacher for every 14 kids. Wow - small class sizes, right?

Not so fast.

At least as late as November 2011, Chicago Schools reported class sizes were around 25, on average, with much higher class sizes reported in schools with poor and minority populations.

In case your math is a little rusty, let me help you out: to staff up classes of 25 for a student population of 350,000, you'd need 14,000 teachers.

Yet there are 25,000 out on strike. Which leads to the obvious question: what exactly do the extra 11,000 do when they are not on strike?

Then again, this suggests an easy resolution, as well. Fire 11,000 teachers and raise the pay of the remaining ones to $135,000. There will be no change in the total salary budget, after all, and it would be a great opportunity to cut out the worst teachers. Win-win!

And wouldn't that be best for the children?

09 September 2012

There's no other word for it - as Clint told us, it's "shameful"

This was a pretty good op-ed by Mort Zuckerman today. The passage below, following the statistics about 45 million on Food Stamps and 11 million on SSDI, really jumped out at me:

"These dependent millions are the invisible counterparts of the soup kitchens and bread lines of the 1930s, invisible because they get their checks in the mail. But it doesn't take away from the fact that millions of people who had good private-sector jobs now have to rely on welfare for life support."

He also points out that employment among those 55 and older is up. I have read elsewhere that under Obama, labor force participation is down for every group except those over 65. Presumably this is because people can't afford to retire any more.

As a result, Zuckerman points out (and I had not read this elsewhere) the US birth rate is falling and is at a 25 year low.

Well, I've said it before, but if we take the Richard Nixon view that every President ultimately gets just one line in the history books, Obama's is already etched in stone:

"Obama made everything worse."

06 September 2012

Obama answers some important questions - with some head-scratching answers

Obama answered a lot of questions tonight. By stating that Joe Biden was "the best Vice President (he) could have hoped for" he explained what all that "hope" talk was really about back in 2008.

I do not think that word means what he thinks it means. And it definitely doesn't mean what all those people who voted for him four years ago thought.

But hope was only half his 2008 platform. He also explained that we "are the change." Just in case you thought it was him. It wasn't.

I have to be honest, that reveal was more disappointing than the LOST finale.

Hope is Joe Biden, and change is you.

Well, at least he laid out his plan for reducing the national debt. He is going to cut military spending, and pay down the debt by spending those dollars on roads and bridges.

As for Biden, I honestly thought he was about to have an aneurysm, and it was a little distracting.

I think that between the two of them, they were trying to lay out a vision, but I am still not sure what it was. They are not going to give up on us. Who is? Who is betting against the American people? They are the party who thinks you can't take care of yourself. They think you were tricked into signing a mortgage.

They think the auto bailout was a good thing. Most Americans disagree.

But one thing was consistent from the first speaker this week to the last - they are really for abortion and gay marriage.

Dems boo God and Israel

Clinton failed to connect even with his fans in the hall, but no problem for Obama - America was watching football

I need to give a more detailed review of Bill Clinton.

He gave a terrible speech. It was confused, confusing, wonkish and silly.

I follow this stuff, and I had trouble following him.

The crowd had trouble knowing when to cheer. It was hard to understand how his arguments led to endorsing Obama. He stepped on his own applause.

He wasn't funny. He wasn't engaging. He even lost, for extended stretches, the crowd in the hall that was predisposed to love him. He was rambling, confused and silly.

Fortunately for Obama, America was watching football. But I wish they'd been watching Clinton.

Hidin' Biden! Clinton 2012 at the DNC much like Reagan 1992 at the RNC - the crowd loved him, but he couldn't save the incumbent.

What planet to Democrats live on? Watching Cecile Richards (among others) talk about Republicans trying to "end access to birth control" I can't think of a good response. It is so insanely untethered from reality it is isn't even funny. It's sad.

I am curious to know whether they think they need to stop insurance companies from charging men more than women for the same auto insurance coverage.

Not to dwell too long on the insanity, but I just want to point out that being a woman is, in fact, a pre-existing condition. On the other hand, pregnancy is not a disease, and neither abortion nor birth control are "health care."

On to prime time...

It's hard to understand the crackpot choices Democrats made for prime time. It began with the 30-year-old law student Sandra Fluke. She is, first of all, a terrible orator. But ultimately, a speaker cannot really transcend the message.

But more generally, why do Democrats always see such a dystopian society around them?

The theme continued through both the Costco guy and Elizabeth Warren. America is a dark place where the "game is rigged against you."

So often I hear conservatives warning Republicans against being too negative about their opponents, but never have I heard a Republican so negative in outlook about the world around them as every single speaker at the DNC. They want to re-elect the guy who is president of a country where people are "hanging on by their fingernails?"

I have to give Warren credit for one thing. SHe said "corporations aren't people." True. that's why corporations don't pay taxes. Only people pay taxes. Corporations collect them. Only Elizabeth Warren doesn't understand that.

My bottom line about this convention so far is that it reminds me a lot of the Republican convention of 1992. There was a lot to like for the Republican faithful in that convention, but it was angry and quite out of step with what the country was thinking about at the time.

Which brings us to Bill Clinton. In 1992, Ronald Reagan gave his final major speech. He rocked. The crowd loved him. And he served mostly to remind the attendees of how far they had fallen since his tenure.

Let's be clear: Clinton is a terrible person. But conservatives have never given him enough credit for doing almost nothing during his time in office. It was the best thing he could have done.

Sure, his neglect of foreign policy led rather directly to 9/11. But he pretty much rubber-stamped most of the Republican Congress' agenda.

I found his angle on how nice and good Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan and both Bushes were to be a bit curious. Especially the praise for George W. Bush. For an Obama campaign that seeks to continue to blame Bush for everything, this did not strike me as a helpful message for Obama.

He went on about how important it is to work with Republicans. How does that help Obama? He has hardly been a conciliatory and compromising figure. I have to be honest - this struck me as a fairly backhanded endorsement.

On a personal note, I know that Bill Clinton is 66 years old, but his feeble and weak presentation surprised even me. He is the same age as George W. Bush and only one year older than Mitt Romney, but seems much older than both. I think he is not a healthy man.

It is not surprising that I was unmoved by his message, but could his speech sway some votes? Not among football fans, who all were watching the Dallas Cowboys defeat the New York Giants in the NFL's season opener.

05 September 2012

DNC day two review

Okay, I watched the Cowboys beat the Giants instead fo watching the Democrats. So what did I miss? How was Biden's keynote? I bet he was really on his "A Game" after Ryan's star turn last week. That guy showed why he is holding the #2 spot ont eh Democrat ticket, right?

What? No?

It was Bill Clinton? The rapist who once held the office of President?

Why are they Hidin' Biden?

On to my DVR and a real review of the convention...

04 September 2012

Tonight message: "My parents worked hard to ensure my success, but you clearly can't do that without Barack's help"

What really struck me during the Democrats' first night of primetime speakers is how often they scorned and mocked the very idea of people working towards their own success, and yet, at the very same time, they related personal stories about doing just that.

Julian Castro told us about how hard his mom worked. Michelle Obama told us that her father paying every penny of the "small part" of her college costs was his measure of his own manhood.

Both seem genuinely inspired by their parents - and scornful of the veyr notion that you might want to do the same for your kids, rather than consign them to the beneficence of the sun-god Barack, and the government to which we all belong.

Student loans were a big talking point tonight, although it is not clear to me what exactly they are proposing. As Michelle Obama pointed out, she and her husband made it through Columbia, Princeton, and Harvard Law (both of them) in the dark ages before Obama made college affordable to all.

If the poor, working-class Obamas could go to some of the most expensive schools in the country thirty years ago, exactly who can't go today?

I'm sure the AP fact-checkers will score them down for not commenting on how government subsidies have driven college tuition upwards faster than inflation, faster even than health care over the last thirty years.

I'm sure they'll jump all over Michelle's "so young, so in love, and so in debt" line, as well. They were in their 30s, both Harvard educated lawyers, and living in a multimillion dollar mansion in Hyde Park.

Because AP does that. Right?

01 September 2012

The Democrats' problem responding to Clint: they can't knock him on style or on substance

I should say up front that I thought Clint was great. Here's why his performance is so troublesome for Democrats.

Clint is not George Clooney. He's not some flavor of the week, or the "sexiest man," or a well-known Hollywood political activist.

Clint Eastwood is an legendary cultural figure both in America's heartland and in the Hollywood art community.

Every American can recite any number of Clint Eastwood movie one-liners. Indeed, those lines have been used by Presidential candidates for years. He put his stamp on the Hollywood Western with his iconic roles in Sergio Leone's trilogy, and in his own movies such as The Outlaw Joey Wales and Unforgiven. He also gave us Dirty Harry, a character who appealed to Americans fed up in the 1970s with increasing crime and soft-on-criminals politicians. He has been a familiar face in America's living rooms since starring in TV's Rawhide more than fifty years ago.

But Clint is also a two-time Oscar-winning director, a feat matched by only 17 others in the award's long history. He has been nominated as a director four times, is one of only eight people ever nominated for both acting and directing in the same movie. He won an AFI film award just last year.

Actors clamor to appear in his movies.

So the first problem Democrats will have in attacking Clint is that they can't define him. People know who Clint is already, and that image is not about to change. People like Clint. It is my fervent hope that Dems try to attack him, because attacking Clint Eastwood won't help Obama.

More importantly, there is this simple truth: it was a great performance. Clint is a multi-millionaire, and in this year of attacking the rich, it was awesome to see a guy like that, who is certainly quite insulated from ordinary people, so in tune with what we are all thinking about.

It was like talking to your neighbor - only your neighbor was Clint f***ing Eastwood.

And what did he say that was wrong? The 23 million unemployed should make us sad, and it is a national disgrace. We shouldn't vote for somebody because he seems like a nice guy, and when a person doesn't do the job, you do have to let him go.

And Joe Biden is a ridiculous buffoon.

So the Democrats really only have two problems responding to Clint. They can't knock him on style - because he's Clint Eastwood - and they can't knock him on substance - because he was right.