October 24, 2014
The Florida Voucher Fight
Denisha Merriweather and the Florida Education Association have very different viewpoints on Florida's Tax Credit Scholarships Program. On the one hand the program got a ringing endorsement from Ms. Merriweather recently in the Wall Street Journal. She was one of Florida's low-income minority students who were able to take advantage of it. To say that the FTC Scholarship Program made a difference in her life would be quite an understatement. In her own words,
By the time I was in the fourth grade, I had been held back twice, disliked school, and honestly believed I’d end up a high-school dropout. Instead, three months ago, I earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida in interdisciplinary social science with a minor in juvenile justice. I am the first member of my family to go to college, let alone graduate. But this didn’t happen by chance, or by hard work alone. It happened because I was given an opportunity.
The difference maker was a scholarship that allowed me to go to a secondary school that was the right fit for me. I was lucky to be raised in Florida, home to the nation’s largest tax-credit scholarship program, a “voucher” program that helps parents pay for private schools. Here’s the cool part: The scholarships are financed entirely by charitable contributions, which are offset by tax credits.
The Florida Department of Education concurs: It's "Good news for choice!"
Good news for choice! To encourage private, voluntary contributions, to expand educational opportunities for children of families that have limited financial resources and to enable children in this state to achieve a greater level of excellence in their education, the 2001 Florida Legislature created s. 220.187, Florida Statutes, establishing the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. In 2010, the FTC Scholarship Program was expanded and renumbered as Section 1002.395, Florida Statutes.
The law provides for state tax credits for contributions to nonprofit scholarship funding organizations, called SFOs. The SFO's then award scholarships to eligible children of families that have limited financial resources.
As uplifting as Ms. Merriweather's story truly is, somehow the Florida Education Association wants to kill the program that made it possible. The tax-credit scholarship program has been around since 2001, created under Republican Governor Jeb Bush, but recently the FEA has filed a lawsuit that seeks to end it altogether. Says the FEA:
"Florida's voucher programs are a risky experiment that gambles taxpayers' money and children's lives," Florida Education Association Vice President Joanne McCall said in a statement sent out in conjunction with a press conference in Tallahassee. "Florida's voucher schools are largely unregulated, don't have to follow the state's academic standards, don't have to hire qualified teachers and don't have to prove to the state that they are using public money wisely."
You might think that ten-plus years of positive results would allay FEA fears of the risk to children. In fact, Florida comes in first in the nation for developing reading proficiency among low-income fourth-graders. Still, the teachers union wants it gone. Sorry, but the pretended concern about some nebulous risk to Florida's children doesn't ring true.
As ususal, we can follow the money.
Education and advocacy groups are targeting a Florida voucher program that this year will draw $357.8 million in taxpayer money to help send 69,000 low-income students to private schools. The groups filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging that the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, begun in 2001 under former Gov. Jeb Bush, violates the state constitution by diverting tax dollars from public schools.
The tax credit cap, currently 357.8 million, will increase to $447.3 million for next year. Education and advocacy groups (advocates for the Democratic party, no doubt) want that money in public schools where it can feed union dues which will ultimately find their way into Democratic campaign coffers. For their part Democrats are great champions of public education rather than school choice. They know where the money is.
There is another much more insidious aim. Think about who Denisha Merriweather might have become without the FTC Scholarship that paved her way to a college degree. Ms. Merriweather describes that Denisha as a child.
I grew up with my biological mother and we moved around constantly. This really took a toll on my grades—Ds and Fs were the norm. My poor grades and the fact that I was two years older than most of my classmates angered and embarrassed me. I was “disruptive” and fought with other students. Teachers tried to help, but nothing they did seemed to work. I felt no matter how hard I tried, the results would be the same. Learning became a nightmare—a punishment for being a child.
That is the Denisha Merriweather that Democrats would prefer to have as a voting citizen. Without a course correction Ms. Merriweather fully expected to be a high school dropout. Angry, embarrassed, resentful. Think how much more easily she could be persuaded by the Democratic message. You know the one: Her lot in life, low skill, low education, low income, all of that, is because she's caught in a racist trap. A system rigged against her. Yes, it's almost certain that she'd buy into that message.
The funny thing is, had she been stuck in that boat, she would have been right to believe that racism put her there. It's a racist trap, alright, but it's not the doings of a Republican party that Democrats endlessly accuse of racism. (If you disagree with Barack Obama what else could you be but racist?) No, the racist trap is the doing of a Democratic party that takes deliberate, concrete actions to deny opportunity to disadvantaged school children. That's the racist trap. That's what the Democrats are doing in Florida.
October 23, 2014
Obama Is Way Too Cool
With no letup in sight the Obama administration blunders through crisis after crisis. The mid-term elections are just weeks away, so Joshua Green of Bloomberg tries his best to chalk up the blundering to public misunderstanding of Obama's crisis management "style." Oh, and Republican obstuctionism, too. On that count Exhibit A is this bit of red meat for the lefty partisans. (All emphasis below is mine)
It’s true that Obama’s task is made considerably more difficult by the antipathy that has marked the Republicans’ response to Ebola. Most seem more intent on stopping Democrats than on stopping the contagion. Their ads politicizing the virus have only added to the climate of fear. And their filibuster of Obama’s surgeon general nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has also silenced an authoritative voice on public health, for reasons as small-minded as those dictating the party’s line on Ebola: They’re carrying water for the National Rifle Association, which objects to classifying gun violence as a public-health issue.
The Boston Globe, not your everyday right-wing rag, reports a different take on the Murthy "filibuster."
Republicans, however, noted that Democrats who control the Senate could have confirmed Murthy without any help from Republicans under rule changes enacted last year that allow confirmation with a simple majority.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid has declined to put the nomination up for a vote, with a leadership aide telling the Globe in March that there was uncertainty over whether some Democrats would support it.
Turns out it was the all too typical Harry Reid filibuster. Just never bring it up.
But anyway, on to the analysis of Obama's crisis management process. It's cerebral. Really. It is. At least according to Joshua Green, it is. He seems to think "Obama’s crisis-management process as akin to a high-level graduate seminar." Yeah.
Six years in, it’s clear that Obama’s presidency is largely about adhering to intellectual rigor—regardless of the public’s emotional needs. The virtues of this approach are often obscured in a crisis, because Obama disdains the performative aspects of his job.
Hmmm. Maybe Green should have left off that last part. Suppose we think of "the performative aspects" in the way you might think of your annual performative review. You know, where your'e hoping you might be in for a pay raise? So Obama, he "disdains" doing his job? How's that supposed to work?
Well that's not exactly news, and we've seen how it works, which is: not. Obama can never bring himself to do anything except campaign and play gotcha games with Republicans. And everybody else for that matter. From blowing up budget negotiations with John Boehner to blowing up the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraqi President al Maliki, Obama is always into politial maneuvering so that the inevitable failure is somebody elses fault.
And journalists like Joshua Green go along with that. Consider the BS about the Republican filibuster. But Green wants to have it both ways. He wants to appear to be critical of President Obama to give the rest of his nonsense some weight.
Even so, the failure is mostly Obama’s. It didn’t require extraordinary foresight to anticipate the public freakout once the infection spread beyond Duncan. Obama, who’s better acquainted with Washington dysfunction than anybody, should have anticipated the partisan acrimony.
Right. Obama should have anticipated that Republicans would be partisan. And of course, he should have realized that the public are just not as cool as he is. Tripped up by his own glorious brilliance. Tragic.
October 22, 2014
Jeanne Shaheen Ducks The Question
In last night's debate between Scott Brown and Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Shaheen was confronted with this (apparently very difficult) question: "Imagine you are at home wearing your New Hampshire citizen hat and you get a call from pollster asking the following question: Do you approve of the job President Obama is doing? Now there'll be a chance to follow up but this is a yes or no answer. Do you approve, yes or no?"
What a great question, and it put Senator Shaheen in a tough spot. If she answered yes, it would be an admission that she hasn't really been at all in tune with her constituents. If she said no, she would have to explain why she voted with Obama 99% of the time.
The question we need to have answered is this. Does Senator Shaheen support the perpetuation of President Obama's policies? By ducking the moderator's question the Senator let her voting record speak for itself, and the answer it gives is yes. She supports continuing President Obama's policies. And it will be impossible for New Hampshire citizens to escape the detrimental impact of those policies if Democrats hold the Senate.
October 19, 2014
Vote No to Jeanne Shaheen
Jeanne Shaheen is one of seven Senate Democrats who signed a March 2012 letter requesting Douglas H. Shulman, Commissioner of the IRS, "to immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as 'social welfare' organizations."
Shaheen's letter got results. A year later in May 10, 2013 a headline in the Washington Post read, "IRS admits targeting conservatives for tax scrutiny in 2012 election." Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, blamed the Cincinnati Office saying, "They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title."
When asked about this at a congressional hearing Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversaw tax-exempt groups, refused to testify invoking her fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. What better indication of improper political activity by IRS than this? In effect the IRS suppressed the conservative message through tax policy in order to enhance Barack Obama's re-election chances.
Another four years of Barack Obama. Lucky us. But there is a point to this. If you don't believe the IRS should be working for the Democratic party, vote "No" to another six years of Jeanne Shaheen.
October 18, 2014
Hope and Change!
This ought to be a bumper sticker!
A hat tip to Michael Walsh!
October 01, 2014
You Are Not Mary's Cause
The charges leveled in this powerful campaign ad by Elbert Guillory against Louisiana encumbant Senator Mary Landrieu could also be said of any other Democrat running this year... and those not running, as well.
September 23, 2014
A New Innovation of the Obama IRS
Perusing the IRS Inspector General's report, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, a Professor of Law at Georgetown, noticed a troubling finding.
According to the inspector general’s report (pp. 30 & 38), this particular IRS targeting commenced on Jan. 25, 2012 — the beginning of the election year for President Obama’s second campaign. On that date: “the BOLO [‘be on the lookout’] criteria were again updated.” The revised criteria included “political action type organizations involved in … educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
It wasn't just Tea Party groups who were subjected to heightened scrutiny by the IRS.
This is a new low for American government — targeting those who would teach others about its founding document. Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon went to great lengths to try to conceal the facts of his constitutional violations, but it never occurred to him to conceal the meaning of the Constitution itself, by targeting its teachers. Politicians have always been tempted to try to censor their political adversaries; but none has been so bold as to try to suppress constitutional education directly. Presidents have always sought to push against the constitutional limits of their power; but never have they targeted those who merely teach about such limits. In short, never before has the federal government singled out for special scrutiny those who would teach their fellow citizens about our magnificent Constitution. This is the new innovation of Obama’s IRS.
We have an important election coming up.
September 22, 2014
Climate Change - The Stakes
Climate Change, formerly known as Global Warming, is a high stakes game, and the hysteria on display yesterday afternoon in New York provides dramatic emphasis.
Naomi Klein, author of a new book on the “crisis,” This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, said, “I have seen the future, and it looks like New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.” In her new book she demands that North America and Europe pay reparations to poorer countries to compensate for the climate change they cause. She calls her plan a “Marshall Plan for the Earth” and acknowledges that it would cost “hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars.”
Can you guess where those "hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars" will come from? Bingo, if you guessed the American tax payer. Ms Klein has a different answer, though.
“Need more money? Print some!”
Apparently, her understanding of monetary theory is on a par with her understanding of the climate. News flash for Ms. Klein: There is no free lunch. Printing more money will only shift the cost climate boondoggles to poorest of us, the ones who can't protect what little they have by fleeing the sinking dollar for something else that might hold some value.
No matter. Climate hysteria works for Naomi Klein. She's become a best selling author by grinding the anti-capitalist axe. With her latest effort, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, she both promotes and cashes in on the anti-capitalist hysteria by predicting the end of civilization, an eventuality brought on by catastophic climate change, which of course is the bitter fruit of corporate profits.
"Hundreds of billions if not trillions" buys a lot of hysteria, and said hysteria will undoubtedly bring in a load of cash for Ms. Klein. Her book was scheduled to be released this month, so you might say the Climate Summit in New york is the culmination of her book tour. What a brilliant marketing strategy!
The cllimate itself, however, is not at stake, no matter how hysterical they get down in the Big Apple. Activist powers that be didn't change the name from "Global Warming" to "Global Climate Change" for nothing.
Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”
May I suggest, a new approach to Climate Science is needed. Stop worrying about the CO2 and start paying attention to the USD. In other words, follow the money.
Note: This is not a review of Ms. Klein's new book. In fact, I have no intention of ever paying money for a copy, so my chances of ever reading it are slim to none.
September 17, 2014
The Allure of Secession
And which of the last true-believing pilgrims in the Church of Hope and Change, his fraying Shepard Fairey T-shirt his only protection against the chill of the frozen-foods aisle at Trader Joe’s, does not dream of living in a nation with no SUV-driving Rick Perry voters who drink cheap beer un-ironically?
Scottish secession, an extraordinarily foolish hope?
September 16, 2014
A former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the State Department has come forward with what some would consider a startling allegation. Others, like myself, find nothing startling about it.
According to Raymond Maxwell an after-hours session was conducted in the basement at State Department headquarters in DC, to prevent any damaging documents from being turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
“She told me, ‘Ray, we are to go through these stacks and pull out anything that might put anybody in the [Near Eastern Affairs] front office or the seventh floor in a bad light,’” says Maxwell. He says “seventh floor” was State Department shorthand for then-Secretary of State Clinton and her principal advisers.
“I asked her, ‘But isn’t that unethical?’ She responded, ‘Ray, those are our orders.’ ”
I'd be more startled if anybody could show that no such scrubbing took place. The story has a familiar ring.