Monday, June 30, 2008

LOOK OUT, EL PRESIDENTE! Venezuelan Women Hath Wrath, and Political Power!


I dislike Hugo Cavez at least half as much as his ex-wife does, but only because I don't know him, personally! From John Fund, at the WSJ op-ed page:




Now Mr. Chávez has trouble on the domestic front. Marisabel Rodríguez, the former first lady of Venezuela whom Mr. Chávez divorced in 2004, announced she will run for mayor of one of Venezuela's most important cities in November local elections. She will run as an opposition candidate because she wants to "change the face and way of doing politics in this city and this country," she told reporters.



The candidacy of Ms. Rodríguez, a public relations executive, will no doubt revive stories about the couple's messy divorce. She is apparently a past master at psychological warfare against her ex-husband. "Marisabel doesn't hesitate to talk about Chávez on TV while holding their daughter, and that is the kind of tactic the opposition likes because to fight a media figure like Chávez you need to shock people in some way," says Arturo Serrano, a political scientist, told Britain's Guardian newspaper.




Will he kill her, or will she bring "justice" to the Venezuelan political system? Stay tuned for more episodes of "As The World Turns." Thanks, Mr. Fund. All kidding aside, this is an issue of some importance, if it means a "safe haven" for Chavez' political opponents. This may not happen, but let's see how she does in the mayoral election. Before I cheer her on, I wonder: Is the enemy of my enemy my friend? Does she really stand for democracy, freedom, and human rights, or is she just trying to get her "piece of the pie?" Mr. Fund doesn't answer that question. I hope she's the real deal.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Obama's "Chicago Challenge"


Will Obama's Chicago past come back to haunt him? That's the question posed by John Fund, in the WSJ Political Diary.




Mr. Obama was on shakier ground when he insisted that none of the burgeoning scandals in Illinois politics have anything to do with him. In recent days, top Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko was convicted on influence peddling charges and Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich is facing possible impeachment hearings in the Illinois legislature over Rezko-related scandals.



"You will recall that for my entire political career here, I was not the endorsed candidate of any political organization here," Mr. Obama told Chicago reporters. "My reputation in Springfield [as a state legislator] was as an independent. There is no doubt I had friends and continue to have friends who come out of the more traditional school of Chicago politics but that's not what launched my political career and that's not what I've ever depended on to get elected, and I would challenge any Chicago reporter to dispute that basic fact."



Throwing down a challenge to reporters might prove uncomfortable for Mr. Obama. Good government groups in Chicago have long deplored his seeming indifference to the corruption in the Daley machine that has dominated the city since 1955. Indeed, Mr. Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod is also current Mayor Richard J. Daley's top political adviser. And while Mr. Obama was not originally elected with the help of the machine, once in the legislature he became a close ally of state Senate President Emil Jones, a cog in the Daley machine who has been the chief obstacle to passing ethics reform through the state legislature.



"Obama may pretend he is Obambi when it comes to corruption," says Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass. "But the fact is that you can't come from Chicago without having your involvement with its politics scrutinized." At Mr. Obama's invitation, here's hoping enterprising reporters start digging.




This is also why NY candidates fare so poorly in presidential races. They all have skeletons in the closet, because our state is so corrupt. I don't think Obama is any different, coming from Chicago.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's The End of the World As We Know It: I'll Pay For That Story!

The AP is at it again. These people want to charge bloggers for reprinting stuff like this? Give me a break, man! Here's a link to "The Sky Is Falling Down," by two very talented individuals employed by the AP. Okay, the actual title is "Everything seemingly is spinning out of control," and the individuals aren't very talented, except as liberal propagandists. Read it and weep, or laugh. Just a quick thought.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

WE CAN'T DRILL, CONSERVE, ALTERNATE, OR TAX OUR WAY OUT OF THIS ANY TIME SOON


Will the windfall profits tax bring the price of gas down one cent? No. Will drilling in ANWR lower gas prices tomorrow? No. Can we have efficient alternative fuels at a cheaper cost than gas, any time soon? No. Will cutting down on our driving, and buying more fuel efficient cars bring down gas prices now? No.



Whenever I hear "We can't drill our way out of this problem," I have three replies: "We can't conserve, alternate, or tax our way out of it, either." None of these will lower gas prices for years.



So next time anyone says "that won't bring gas prices down one cent," remember that neither will any solution they have, in the near term. The fact is that we need a combination of increased domestic oil production and refining capacity, as we encourage promising alternative fuels. Conservation should be encouraged, and financially incentivized, when possible. There has to be a real compromise for all of these long-term measures to pass. Anything less will not be a comprehensive energy policy, and any short-term solution congress comes up with will probably do more harm than good.

Addendum: We can't tax our way out of this, or any of our major national challenges, in the near OR long term. Just so we're clear on that.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Dems No Friends to Children Who Use Vouchers, or Charter Schools


It's high time someone called the Dems on their committment to education reform. Two examples are school vouchers and charter schools. Both have been successful, and both are overwhelmingly opposed by Democrats. The WSJ has a few interesting pieces on these programs, and how the Dems are trying to kill them, regardless of their real benefit to the children that use them.



James Taranto's Best of the Web Today column cites Obama's defense of his opposition to vouchers, from an ABC News interview, and William McGurn's Main Street column cites Elanor Holmes Norton promising to cut off funding to the DC voucher program.




And on the same day that he was extolling the need to shake up the "status quo" in education, Obama also defended his opposition to school vouchers.



"We don't have enough slots for every child to go into a parochial school or a private school. And what you would see is a huge drain of resources out of the public schools," Obama said.



McCain advocates giving every parent a voucher to essentially choose which school they'd like to send their child. Obama, whose two daughters attend private school, said that idea would crush the public school system entirely.



"But what I don't want to do is to see a diminished commitment to the public schools to the point where all we have are the hardest-to-teach kids with the least involved parents with the most disabilities in the public schools," he said. "That's going to make things worse, and we're going to lose the commitment to public schools that I think have been so important to building this country."




Mr. Taranto's piece does a good job explaining Sen. Obama's politics on this one, but I will cite one flaw in the senator's argument: Most voucher programs offer students less than half of what the school district spends per pupil, and one measure (I forget where, but it was defeated) would not have changed the school budget at all, taking the voucher money from the general revenue stream.



Mr. McGurn's piece shows that there are some cracks in the Democratic ranks, but not Rep. Holmes Norton, or Sen. Obama:




Barack and Michelle Obama send their children to an upscale private school. When asked about it during last year's YouTube debate, Sen. Obama responded that it was "the best option" for his children.



Several hundred low-income parents in our nation's capital have also sent their children to private and parochial schools, with the help of a federal program that provides Opportunity Scholarships. Like Mr. and Mrs. Obama, most of these parents are African-American. And like Mr. and Mrs. Obama, they too believe the schools they've chosen represent the "best option" for their children.



Now these parents have a question for Mr. Obama. Is Mr. Change-You-Can-Believe-In going to let his fellow Democrats take away the one change that is working for them?



Just a few days ago, Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.'s congressional delegate) told the Washington Post that "the Democratic Congress is not about to extend this program." Today that program will come under the congressional spotlight, when a House subcommittee takes up the annual appropriations bill for the District of Columbia that includes funding for Opportunity Scholarships for the 2009-10 school year. If Mrs. Norton and her allies in the teachers unions have their way, hundreds of African-American children with these scholarships will be forced back into one of the most miserable public school systems in the United States.



Just how rotten are the D.C. public schools? In a recent survey by Education Week, the D.C. public schools ranked fourth from the bottom in terms of graduation rates. Test scores for basics like math and reading are also near the bottom. It's not for lack of money: A recent U.S. Census Bureau report says the district school spending clocks in at more than $13,400 per child -- third highest in the nation. It takes a lot of money to run a school system as lousy as D.C.'s.



This dismal performance helps explain why so many have been willing to cross the usual political and ideological lines to try to give the district's kids a better shot at a decent education. Opportunity Scholarships have been endorsed by both the Washington Post and Washington Times. They have the support of the Republican president as well as the current and past Democratic mayors -- Adrian Fenty and Anthony Williams.



Even some of Mr. Obama's Democratic colleagues -- e.g., California's Dianne Feinstein -- have said that D.C. should be allowed to give the program a chance. In contrast, Mr. Obama's silence is thundering across the district.




The third piece, New York's Novel Way to Kill Charter Schools, by Amy H. Friedman and Peter Murphy, details the roadblocks that bureaucrats and the liberal NY judiciary are throwing up to charter schools, through "prevailing wage" laws. The only problem is, the law creating charter schools exempts them from prevailing wage laws.




Recently, Tapestry (Tapestry Charter School in central Buffalo) won approval to add high school grades, and this is where the trouble started. To accommodate these new grades as well as serve the other students, the school decided to build a new building. It expected to pay about $8.5 million.



But last autumn, as a sop to labor unions, Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith ordered charter schools to adhere to state "prevailing wage" requirements, which mandate paying union wages for construction projects and which typically add 30% or more to the cost of a project. In Tapestry's case, it would add more than $1.5 million, putting the school's building expansion plans on hold.



Since their inception, charter schools had been exempt from this state law which, like its federal counterpart, the Davis-Bacon Act, applies to most public-works projects. Last month, however, state trial judge Michael Lynch upheld the new mandate, erroneously applying labor law to charter schools beyond anything intended by the legislature or precedent. The case is on appeal and will likely be overturned, but that could take years.



"Critics say there aren't enough charter high schools, but this latest hit makes it near impossible to afford to build one," Joy Pepper, Tapestry's co-founder and director, said. "How can it be good public policy for the state to raise the cost of school buildings when we get no capital money to begin with? It's the students they're hurting."



This ruling is an egregious example of the withering autonomy of charter schools. Charters successfully educate students on 70% of the funding spent by district school competitors. But the state's education bureaucracy, legislature and now the courts are all piling on regulatory burdens.




Sen. Obama purports to support charter schools. How far does his committment go? Does he support their exemption from local and federal prevailing wage laws? No word so far, but this might be a good question for someone to ask him.

Monday, June 16, 2008

BUFFY, THE COSMIC (CONSERVATIVE) KITTY!


BUFFY, the Cosmic Kitty, insisted I give a shout- out to The Conservative Cat blog. Who am I to argue?

Friday, June 06, 2008

OBAMA Vs. McCAIN: Who's Worse For America?


Here's a list of reasons I don't want to vote for Sen. McCain:



His anti-American "campaign finance reform" law, which flies in the face of the first amendment.



His position on illegal immigration. I don't buy his "conversion" on this issue, or his promises of securing the Mexican border first.



He's buying into the whole "man-made global warming" scheme, and thinks the US government can alter it, if it was true.



He really doesn't understand economics. If he did, he would've supported Bush's tax cuts from the "get-go." I believe he won't let them expire, but he may be open to other, brand new tax increases.



I worry that his years of Senate experience, "reaching out" to, and "compromising" with liberals on the above issues, among others, will carry over into his Presidency. He may get their support for his foreign policy (which I generally agree with) by giving the libs free reign over domestic issues.



I still intend to vote for McCain, though I'm sure I can (and will) add to the list of differences and problems I have with him. When I look at Sen. Obama, I see an empty suit, and many more reasons not to vote for him:



He wants to increase taxes to "save" Social Security, instead of offering "private accounts" to people that want them. I don't see any "change" in that policy from traditional liberal dogma.



His lack of foreign policy experience is my greatest concern. I see a whole bunch of "world leaders" waiting to have him for breakfast. His citing of JFK's meeting with Kruschev shows a deeper flaw in his logic, and/or lack of knowledge of political history.



He is an unmitigated, radical liberal. He has a list of positions that contradict the majority of Americans' opinions, including some of the things I cited against Sen. McCain, above. In addition, Obama supports sex education for Kindergarten! Obama sought the endorsement of the Marxist Party in 1996! Obama has a huge anti-gun record. (Hat tip STACLU) In other words, the liberal agenda will be fully supported by President Obama.



His 20 year association with the Trinity United Church of Christ is of great concern to me. Any church that allows such anti-American, anti- semitic, and anti-white hatred to be spewed from their pulpit is not a place to "find Jesus Christ." It seems as if Sen. Obama has "tolerated" this hate speech for some time, but doesn't tolerate discussion of it by people who are disgusted by it.



As much as Sen. McCain has "reached out" to work with liberals, I have not seen Sen. Obama "reach out" to conservatives, on any ideologically divisive issue. If I were still a liberal, I would love Sen. Obama, and gladly vote for him (heck, I'd be shouting "stick it to the man!"). He's wedded to his leftist ideology, and has only recently shown signs of breaking with it. Sen. McCain has been all over the ideological map, over many years. I see him as more of an ideological "crap shoot" than Sen. Obama, but a safer bet for our national security.



Let the battle begin, and may the best man win (sorry, Sen. Clinton).

Sunday, June 01, 2008

DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW, PAY LESS: SIGN THE PETITION!

I'll gladly shill for Newt Gingrich on this one. Please sign this petition, because someone has to put real political pressure on our representatives to drill for domestic oil. Your signature can help Mr. Gingrich's effort to do this. Go to the link in the title to sign.

DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW, PAY LESS