Monday, September 29, 2008

"House" the plumbing edition

While the rest of the world was reading how Congress was going to reward bad financial decisions by Wall Street sophisticates and main street wishful thinkers we've spent a good part of the weekend....and again this morning, trying to discover where the clog in the kitchen drain actually is. Each time we think we've got it reappears. I can't imagine what people without full basements would have to endure (over the retched stench) while crawling around in a dark, dank, 'who-knows-what's-under-there' crawlspace. How can you clear out so much gunk, run a load of dishes in the automatic dishwasher as well as a big load of hand washing (hey, with a family of six it doesn't take long for the dishes to pile up) and have the drain run smoothly (Hurrah!!) and come back the next morning and get a slow drain again? Frustrating to no end.

And so my daughter has dubbed our plumbing adventure an episode of "House--the plumbing edition".

As I give the whole mortgage lending debacle a bit of thought the bailout seems to stink as much as the gunk in the drain and further similarities include both our drain and Fannie & Freddie needing oversight on a more regular basis and both involve smelly residue, snakes and both may wind up costing me a good bit of cash out of pocket.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I don't think so.

I'm pretty sure we won't be participating in the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood's effort to encourage folks to "Walk to Worship" on Sunday, October 5. According to Google Maps that little jaunt in our Sunday finery will take us 2 hours and 38 minutes.

They grow on trees

The "NObama" signs are growing on trees in my neighborhood.

I hope there's a bumper crop this year.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Senator John McCain is suspending his presidential campaign and heading back to Washington to help Congress fix the problem they created and could have solved back in 2005 with SB 190 if they'd listened to co-sponsor John McCain back then. Maybe they'll listen now.

In prepared remarks for a speech in New York City, McCain said he is calling on President Bush to convene a meeting with leadership from both the House and the Senate, including the two presidential nominees, in order to work toward a solution.
This is what leadership looks like. It doesn't look like sending Congress on vacation in August so Speaker Nancy Pelosi can start her book tour. It doesn't look like Obama retiring to sunny Florida to prep for a debate on Friday. It doesn't look like voting "Present". It doesn't say "I'm not on the clock until January 20, 2009."

Leadership recognizes what's most important and is ready to deal with it even if that means some personal risk. "County First" was all over the Republican Convention just three weeks ago. Today, McCain is walking the talk. Now some will say this is just a political stunt--I welcome a president who understands how to use all the tools available to get the job done. If this stunt saves the nation from having to bailout bad loans at the cost of some $7,000 per taxpayer AND shows Obama for the inexperienced lightweight I believe him to be, well, all the better.

Your move Obama. Lead follow or get out of the way.

Unfortunate timing

Maybe this week (this month or year) wasn't the right time for Habitat for Humanity to be ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange in light of the failure of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG and the $700 BILLION housing/mortgage market bailout legislation being currently discussed in Congress.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kindall backs down

MNPS BOE member Ed Kindall (District 7-Downtown-Glencliff) backed way down from the harsher rhetoric of NAACP members, his former Board colleague George Thompson and himself earlier this year by offering a motion for the board to establish a date for a study session (maybe four hours) in next two weeks to deal with elements of implementation of the student assignment plan to include transportation for non-contiguous zones, additional resources, choice options and communication with parents. This in an effort clearly establish parameters with the administration according to him. Kindall also stated he has a huge concern to maximize and maintain diversity.

Here's the 13 minute video of that portion of last night's meeting.*

Karen Johnson seconds the motion. Comments from:

MNPS BOE member Steve Glover (District 4-Donelson-Hermitage) wants to know how the date will be established.

Sharon Gentry (District 1) asks for specifics before the meeting so BOE members aren't walking into this meeting cold.

Acting-superintendent Chris Henson says they've got a working group in place looking at implementation and two weeks would be enough time to prepare. He does make clear that some things won't be known until they actually begin working the plan.

Kindall amends his motion to include capitol expenses.

Gentry finishes her request for further information.

MNPS BOE member Gracie Porter (District 5-East Nashville) piggybacks on the capitol expenditure and mentions the current gasoline situation.

Alan Coverstone (District 9-Bellevue) is pleased with the tenor of the current discussion and thinks it's 'great Mr. Kendall has put the motion this way'.

Karen Johnson appeals for quick communication regarding the dates as her calendar, like everyone's, will fill quickly.

MNPS BOE Chairman David Fox (District 8-Hillsboro-West End) calls for the vote and the motion carries unanimously.

Here's the City Paper's coverage and here's the Tennessean's where their Jaime Sarrio gets it exactly right.

Kindall doesn't have enough support on the board to get the rezoning plan reversed, and he abandoned plans to make a motion at Tuesday's meeting to rescind parts of the plan because he feared it would be denied.
Before the election Kindall was all bluster raising the spector of segregation of old. Now, safely ensconced in his seat for another four years he suddenly becomes more reasonable. I don't have a problem with the BOE asking Acting-Superintendent Chris Henson for details about how this will work but for goodness sake, let the man do his job and then judge it by its fruit.

Why wasn't the BOE so watchful and demanding of action plans while Garcia was frittering away the lives and well-being of students for 7 years?

And, just in case anyone has forgotten forcing diversity does not equal a good education. I don't think it's all that successful as a social engineering tool either. Focus on ensuring that students get the educational delivery system that suits their learning style (check with their parents about that) and I believe the rest will take care of itself.

*YouTube only takes 10 minutes of video, Google Video receives it but I keep getting an error message saying it's unavailable. Let's see if can do better.

Blast from the past

Tony Alamo is still kicking around? Whoa. There's a blast from the past. From this morning's Tennessean:

...he bristled at descriptions of his organization as a cult, saying enemies want to cast him as a "weirdo for preaching what the Bible says".
His interpretation of what the Bible said. I remember having to pull those hate filled screeds against the Catholic Church from my windshield over and over again a couple of decades ago. Alamo was the Fred Phelps of his time. Gail Kerr is right---there was a lot of bizarre behavior coming from the Alamo church. I suspect even the most Pentecostal of the city were glad to be shed of him and his personality driven enterprise. I'm sorry to read that not much has changed.

Let's hope the law gets to the bottom of these current abuse charges quickly.

Paying for their mistakes

Can someone explain to me why I'm having to foot the financial bill for the mistakes of other people? I'm doing the best I can to keep my own financial house in order and I'm supposed to live on less to pay for these financial blunders made in my behalf?

  • $700 BILLION to save the hides of sophisticated investors who bought the understandably risky mortages of people who couldn't afford the homes they 'bought'. Why did they decide red-lining was a bad idea? Why did they decide that ARM's were the way to go? Why did they decide that the American dream was a home of 'your own' instead of financial independence? Why did no one have the guts to tell these folks---"You can't afford this McMansion. Go back to renting until you can." Or "Here's a decent 3 bd/1 bath rancher in your price range." The only thing those Wall Street Wizards were good at was lining their own pockets apparently. They get Golden Parachutes and we get the shaft. We've erred too heavily on the George Baily warm and fuzzy side of the ledger when we needed a bit more of Mr. Potter's skepticism about their ability to carry their notes.
  • A series of hurricanes, floods and fires that destroyed the property of too many people who knew they were at risk for each of those natural disasters have also 'required' taxpayer funds. Why am I paying to rescue them from their own bad decisions to live in those disaster prone areas and/or not evacuate when common sense says "GET OUT OF THERE!" and "That's no place to live." Why am I paying to transport these folks and house them in our area over and over and over again? Why am I viewing video of a Katrina victim who didn't learn a thing the last time and is now angry that Houston didn't rescue her from Hurricane Ike?
  • We have a City Council and mayor that are bound and determined to thwart the will of the people and in doing so are going to cost us some $350,000 dollars to hold a special election because they foolishly thought that Councilman Eric Crafton would just give up when they and their political system said his English First initiative missed the deadline by three days. Crafton's been around a while, folks. He doesn't give up. How is it they haven't picked up on that yet? They doubled down and we lose big time.
  • That same Council who thought that they were above Federal law and could deny a non-profit legitimate use of their own property to actually help the citizens of our area get clean and sober results in another $1,000,000.00 out of our pockets. Though, I have no doubt Teen Challenge will put all that cash to good use I'd prefer individuals who support their work send them money instead of taxpayers being forced to.
  • And yes, I'm still peeved about Governor Bredesen's $13 million dollar party bunker.
At what point will taxpayers actually get relief? At what point will our representatives start realizing that we've only got so much money and their bad decisions are wasteful and abusive.

Kernells of truth

The story about Tennessee State Representative Mike Kernell's son David hacking into Governor Sarah Palin's Yahoo email account are very slowly coming to light. Blue Collar Muse has as good an overview as I've seen yet.

Now we'll get to see how political Kernell is or isn't. Now's a great time for him to state publicly that whether his son did this or not this isn't the sort of political climate he finds acceptable. Let him cross the aisle and stand with Governor Palin, and most of America I dare say, who are astonished that her privacy was invaded in this way. Just when you didn't think the race for president couldn't get more tabloid...we've got people with a 'no holds barred' attitude rooting through the bowels of Palin's life. Where are the statements from Obama saying---"Enough! When I advocated for hope and change it wasn't I hope someone finds some dirt on McCain/Palin and I hope that changes the election results to benefit me." Actually what Obama said was "Get in their face." They did and here we are.

We'll also get to see what kind of father Kernell is. If he knows his son is guilty of this crime, will he encourage him to confess and take the consequences like a man or will he aid and abet his son and work all the angles to ensure he gets nothing but a slap on the wrist? His son may have placed him in a very difficult spot. While David may be man enough to take his own lumps....he forgot that we take our families with us wherever we go and they may also suffer the consequences of foolish actions. David may get a light sentence but this may also cost his father his House seat.

If David Kernell did this he is without excuse. Everyone knows you don't open other people's mail, period. Part of being a civilized society is understanding there are boundaries and willingly respecting them. If my front door isn't don't have a right of entry. If my car window is down you don't have the right to reach in and take my CD player. If David Kernell didn't learn this lesson when he was younger, he needs to learn it now. AND the judicial system needs to make sure that everyone else contemplating such shenanigans gets the message also. Just because you can get to this information doesn't mean you have permission to.

And one has to wonder what it is about Tennessee Democrats? First Congressman Jim Cooper and now State Rep. Mike Kernell's son. Maybe it's the proximity to Internet 'inventor' Al Gore?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not hoarding

It seems only Hurricane Ike and the Nashville gas shortage could drive Gov. Sara Palin off everyone's radar. Nashville has, apparently, kicked into 'snow mode'. At the first hint of gasoline shortages from Hurricane Ike Nashvillians started buying gasoline like it was milk, bread and cigs when Snow Bird makes an appearance.

Our gasoline story goes like this:

A week and a half ago, Thursday, I made my usual run to Sam's which always includes topping off my 27 mpg sedan. I was astonished to see that every pump had an orange cone blocking it. The attendant told me that they were out of gasoline and it would be later that day before they expected more. Well, I still had half a tank. I could wait.

I was back in that same area on Tuesday and found that while most of the pumps were still 'coned' there were some cars filling up. However, as I attempted to pull in the attendent conveyed the bad news that they were down to their last 40 gallons and it would likely be gone by the time the few cars ahead of me were done. This time I couldn't wait and I headed a couple of miles over where I knew there to be three filling stations.

They did have gasoline but they also had lines of cars parked at odd angles trying to get in line. The pumps were very slow. We timed it and getting our 12 gallons took 7 minutes. Which is longer than usual and quite long when you've got hot and bothered folks wondering what's taking you so long. One fellow ahead of me in line finished filling up and gave me a palms-up, shoulder shrug. When I poked my head out the window to ask what that gesture meant he impatiently retorted that I'd blocked him in. Since when is pulling up in line 'blocking' anyone? What was really blocking us all was the fact that folks, in their impatience to get on the property weren't careful about positioning and usual egress wasn't possible. So I and the woman behind me backed up to allow this fellow room to back out and move out. Considering his ill temper--we were glad to help him leave.

Two days later, I got a call from my husband whose 40 mpg sub-compact was running dry. He was unable to find a station with gasoline on his way to work that morning. He estimated he had enough to make it back home but could I fill up the 5 gallon can for him to pour into his tank when he got home? In fact maybe I should make sure my car was topped up too if I found gasoline. So my son and I headed off on the Great Gasoline Search. While our neighorhood was dry another a couple of miles over still had several stations with lines. Thankfully, we only had to wait for one car ahead of us. I put 4 gallons in my tank and 5 in the gas can for my husband. Then I drove a mile up the road to the Farmer's Co-op, purchased another 5 gallon can, returned to the gas station to fill it up all to ensure my husband would have a full tank when he got home. I never would have guessed that I'd be adding 10 gallons of gasoline for my husband's car to my usual grocery run. But it makes more sense for me to search around for it and wait in line than for him to waste valuable income earning time in the search for fuel to get him to work.

So if you see me filling two 5 gallon cans, I'm not hoarding. I'm shopping for my husband so he can keep working to earn the money to pay for gasoline at $4.29 a gallon to actually get to work to earn money to pay for gasoline...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Palin's ABC interview III

From Friday night through Sunday I got to hear Charlie Gibson's interview with Governor Sarah Palin several more times. Each ABC broadcast, on TV and their radio affiliate, varied slightly from the other broadcasts. I've come to the conclusion that the original tape has been so sliced and spliced that I doubt my mother and her aging peers at the elderly high rise, all extraordinary jigsaw puzzlers, could put this thing back in its original form. So, it's my opinion the interview is now only worthwhile in pointing out the hubris of ABC news and its Charlie Gibson and demonstrating the grace under fire that Palin possesses. America is seeing for itself that despite being subjected to such low-life tactics and intense and unfair interrogation Gov. Palin hasn't resorted to whining or complaining but instead has proven that she's a feminist of the best kind. She has taken it like a strong, confident woman and demonstrated she has what it takes to play with the big boys.

The whining is only coming from the left who insist that they haven't done anything wrong and it is necessary to vet her for the job of president (never mind she's running for VICE-President). Sunday's Tennessean editorial by their Mark Silverman called the complaints "Hogwash".

Yet as soon as national reporters began introducing Gov. Palin to the American people, the uproar began: The press is out to destroy her. What's more, the critics charged, there is a liberal conspiracy to discredit a conservative woman.

The grilling and the consistent repeating of less than the truth as well as Kos rumors is not mere introduction it's a hit job intended to take her out of contention. Most likely because she's the wrong kind of woman in their eyes and they're in panic mode at the thought of someone who has actually earned her position making their affirmative action candidate look bad.

Further, Silverman encourages his diminishing readership:
"My advice is that you use as many different news sources as possible."
His advice is exactly correct. You won't get the whole story from the Tennessean to be sure. And his admission points out that it's a new era, one where you can no longer trust your hometown paper to provide accurate and in depth coverage of substance. Call it the Gannettization of news delivery--all the news that is flashy, easy to obtain and fits within the editorial bias and budget. Thankfully, Internet users have readily available options at hand to put the lie to print outlets such as Silverman's. I suggest folks start with which is a site I read long before getting around to reading the Tennessean.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin's ABC interview II

This morning's Good Morning America segments with Governor Palin's were more helpful than last night's hatchet job. However, Gibson's down-the-nose-over-the-glasses-condescension was even more irritating the second time through. I've seen him do interviews before. I don't recall him being so severe and patronizing.

And then came Jake Tapper's "Fact check" on what Gov. Palin said. However, Tapper needs some fact checking himself.

1. Palin said if you go back in history there are probably lots of VP's who never met a world leader. So Tapper goes a mere 32 years back into history to discover that no living VP has not met world leaders before becoming VP and stamps her statement with a big red FALSE! They went all the way back to Nelson Rockefeller who was appointed in 1974 (that's 34 years, Jake) and is conveniently dead. They stopped there. Maybe because that's where VP's who've met heads of state pretty much ends?

Please. Osama Bin Laden quotes from the Balfour Declaration and we're going to judge someone's worthiness to be VICE-president on a convenient 32 year example? We're going to deal with the Chinese who remember and frame their policy based on thousands of years of history and we can't be bothered to go back through our mere 232 years? This during a time when it's never been easier to research any world leader with a few clicks on the computer by viewing video, text and comments from around the world. Is a mere meeting more valuable than knowing about them?

2. In a desperate effort to put flip-flops on Palin Tapper stamps her statement that man may have an impact on the environment as FALSE because she said last year she's not a Gorebot saying:

"I'm not an Al Gore, doom-and-gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity."

Really, folks, anyone who spends any time in nature, like a woman who hunts and fishes for a living, realizes that man has an impact on our environment but that's a long way from taking all the blame. She, like lots of people, isn't convinced they're not cyclical changes we're currently observing. So, because she fails to worship at the alter of global warming (and prays in a church for God's will to be done) she's not qualified to be Vice-President?

Her opponents are coming across as tremendously desperate which, I believe is good news for the country. Desperate people make mistakes and the Obama campaign cannot afford many more mistakes. It won't take much more before they've alienated more than enough normal Americans to lose the election.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Palin's ABC interview

I got to see the ABC exclusive interview with Alaska Governor and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin. Two things:

1. Charlie Gibson pressed really hard to get Palin to admit that she isn't qualified to be VP, let alone President. She didn't. She stood firm and said she didn't hesitate to accept McCain's offer.

2. I don't think I've EVER seen such a choppy editing job. Over and over again the audio was removed from the video while they made a transition to the next sound bite. Clearly, she hadn't completed her thought but ABC had heard enough and thought we had too. I'd really like to see a fuller copy of the interview so I can judge for myself what gatekeeping ABC cut out.

Please no

Next up on the Metro Nashville Public Schools "To Do" list is hiring a superintendent/director. Curiously, MNPS BOE member Karen Johnson (District 6-Antioch) highlighted as breaking news on her blog:

Monday, September 8, 2008

Breaking News Miami Herald Reports Dade School Board votes to negotiate Rudy Crew Buyout

Click here for video of meeting to dismiss school superintendent.

Rudy Crew was one of the guests that shared information on best practices for urban school districts just recently in Nashville.

I can't recall another time when Johnson posted about education issues outside of Nashville.

Just three days later comes word from Education Week that Rudy Crew has indeed been dismissed.

Four years after the Miami-Dade County, Fla., school board waged an intense campaign to woo and win a nationally renowned superintendent, Rudolph F. Crew, it has ousted him from his job on a wave of criticism about his management style and financial acumen.

In a meeting Sept. 10, the school board of the nation’s fourth-largest district decided to buy out the remaining two years of Mr. Crew’s contract for $368,000 in salary and benefits.

Surely, Johnson's not thinking that Crew would be a good replacement for Garcia? We don't need an education rock star personality to head the MNPS. We desperately need a hard worker, willing to put the children, and not their career, first. We don't need anyone with an eye already on their next book sale or their speaker's fee willing to make our children the next notch in their resume belt.

No. Please no.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Depressed Dem PTA Mom

I've come to expect that the very people who put parameters on education choice via legislation almost always choose to enroll their own children in private schools. I don't fault them for placing them there but on restricting the choices of the vast majority of their constituents who cannot afford such choices.

This morning a 'depressed Democrat PTA mom' bemoans:

Let us just say that if Mr. and Mrs. Obama — a dynamic, Harvard-educated couple — had chosen public over private school, they could have lifted up not just their one local public school, but a family of schools. First, given the social pressure (or the social persuasion of wanting to belong to the cool club), more educated, affluent families would tip back into the public school fold. And second, the presence of educated type-A parents with too much time on their hands ensures that schools are held, daily, to high standards. Sandra Tsing Loh
True to form the Obama's, the Bidens and the McCain's children all attended private schools.
And yes, I know I appear to be ranting on like a pit bull without lipstick, which brings me to the final nail in the coffin in this sorry election year. As a Democrat I am horrified that Sarah Palin is the one who snagged the deeply profound — and absolutely ignored by professional smart people — emotional real estate of “P.T.A. mother.” I too am, in fact, not just “my kids’ mom” but their Title I Los Angeles public school P.T.A. secretary. This unheard female howl is, for better or worse, what Ms. Palin has set out to tap into; it is real, and I am sick that we’ve let the Republicans charge this ground. Sandra Tsingh Loh
Palin got her start in the PTA. Likely she wouldn't be VP nominee if she hadn't gotten elected there first. Apparently, someone forgot to start the vetting process then and there.

Chrome need polishing

I've been using Google's new Chrome web browser since it was released in Beta version last week. Its release came at an opportune time in that Firefox 3, which I had been using, has a conflict with Flash 9 and videos were stalling a about 2 seconds. Installing Flash 10 (Beta) seemed to fix that most of the time but I wanted to watch the Republican convention without talking heads interrupting to tell me what to think about what we were (or were not) seeing and Firefox was balking again so I decided to give Chrome a try.

Chrome had absolutely no trouble streaming the convention for me and I was able to see much more than the one hour the networks were willing to show and was able to avoid the PBS filter.

It seamlessly picked up my bookmarks and preferences, even my passwords, from Firefox I was delighted to discover as I began surfing the web.

Chrome is obviously much faster than Firefox and Internet Explorer which is great! I've been on the Internet for 12 years now and I remember the days of really slow dial-up and the tedium of having to wait for so long for pages to appear on my screen. And I do laugh at myself when I become impatient when a page renders slowly. I mean, come on Kay, we're talking about a couple of seconds here. But it's sort of like getting used to going 70 mph on Vietnam Veterans Parkway and then having to slow down to 55 when you get to Rivergate. It's still pretty darn fast but it seems like crawling in relation.

Being able to launch downloads from the Chrome download bar, instead of having to go to the user's download file in Vista was quite handy.

It's frustrating when a page will not render correctly and the whole browser crashes so having Chrome written so just the one tab go down is good idea.

An initial concern with any browser is if it's going to render the pages as the webmaster intended. I didn't run into any sites where Chrome misinterpreted the page. Everything looked great. Unfortunately, a couple of times a day Chrome was unable to find the page at all and I'd get an Oops message. Occasionally, refreshing the page would clear the oops but more often than not it wouldn't and I'd have to open Firefox or IE to see the page.

I really appreciated the way Google seemed to know where I wanted to go and would provide suggested websites based on the little bit of the URL I typed in. Again, very handy.

I was glad to see Google had some video tutorials for Chrome but last week they weren't actually available and so I was pretty much left to my own devices in discovering how the browser worked and what my options might be. I know it's Beta but give us a clue.

It's not unusual for me to have dozens of websites open at once. I'll surf news sites and open pages to be read throughout the day when I have a few moments. Of course, I've still got a life and so it may take a few days for me to get around to them and those pages could be open for a while waiting for me to finish a blog post. What I discovered yesterday was that while Firefox tabs are scrollable left to right or via a drop down option so I can find the page I'm looking for Chrome doesn't seem to do that. At about 24 tabs opened all you've got is icons on those tabs. That's not helpful if 5 of them are Blogspot, 2 are Tennessean, another 3 are City Paper, throw in a few EdWeek pages and and some Wordpress blogs and it's frustrating to find what you want. In fact in Chrome once you reach about 35 open pages tab descriptors and even the fav icons disappear completely and you're driving blind with nothing on those tabs at all. That's completely unacceptable to me.

So I'm back to Firefox for now. I'll recheck Chrome occasionally to see how it's coming along but I'll leave this Beta version to those with more time and patience than I have now. Of course, if Chrome stays in Beta as long as Gmail has...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

English First

From Joanne Jacobs:

English Learner students were excelling in Diamond Lakes, a half-Hispanic school district in northern Illinois. The percentage of ELs reading proficiently had soared from 33 percent in 2004 to 71 percent; math proficiency rose from 49 percent to 79 percent. Then the state cut off funding, discovering that Diamond Lakes had dropped bilingual classes in favor of teaching in English with extra support in Spanish only as needed. After a big fight, the district got its EL funding back. Superintendent Roger Prosise explains what works (pdf) on the Lexington Institute site.
Good for them. "...extra support in Spanish only as needed." Immersion works for children and adults.  

Saturday, September 06, 2008

They do it with their talk....

They do it with their talk and legislation...why is it surprising they do it in real life?

This morning, Republicans tell me that a worker at Invesco Field in Denver saved thousands of unused flags from the Democratic National Convention that were headed for the garbage. Guerrilla campaigning. They will use these flags at their own event today in Colorado Springs with John McCain and Sarah Palin. Denver Post
They should be shamed with a display of their disrespect. 

Hey, DNC, here's what you do with flags when you're finished with them from the VFW website. You know, those guys who fought for what it stands for. 

UPDATE from the Denver Post:
UPDATE I: I just spoke with the person at Invesco who found the flags and he thinks both sides are exaggerating a bit. The person claims the majority of the bags with flags in them were near the trash, on a dock, and would have been thrown away. The person thinks it was probably an “oversight” by the Democrats rather than any nefarious plot against the flag. But the person doesn’t believe anyone was coming to get them: “The flags were there for a week and a day and no one came looking for them.”
Having spoken to the person who found the bags, it’s difficult to believe that anyone was coming to get them a week after the convention — or that they were “stolen.” If so, what is the name of the person who was coming to pick them up? I’ve sent a query asking that question.
I'm still not satisfied. People who respect what the American flag stands for wouldn't leave that many flags in trash bags for eight days on the back dock of space they rented for a couple of weeks. They'd keep them in a facility they controlled where the flags will stay clean and dry if they REALLY intended to use them again or pass them on for someone else's use. 

Falling behind again

The MNPS BOE is falling behind, again, in providing basic accountability to the citizens, taxpayers, voters and parents about their activity by not timely posting agendas and minutes.

Wanted: Board Leader

The MNPS Board of Education needs to pick its next chairman. David Fox, it is being reported by the City Paper, is interested in the job. No doubt this will enable him to work closely with School Superintendent Mayor Karl Dean on reforming the system. I'm not opposed to that partnership. What we're doing isn't working let's try something different.  I always felt like Fox had more to offer the system than most of the Board members who either come from the system itself and are unable to hold their former co-workers/union members accountable or are willing to just warm the seat and collect the check. 

“I’m hopeful that the position of a board member evolves into something more resembling a traditional board position of other large organizations, so that we don’t disqualify such a large portion of the community here who have full-time jobs,” Fox said. “There will always be an infinite number of activities that board members can get involved with, if they choose to. It will be up to an individual board member to manage some of it. But I think there are parts of it that could be better contained.”
He does have a point. The BOE had become nothing more than a rubber stamp for the administration and regularly failed to critically examine the work done by their one employee, the superintendent. They give too much of their finite time to faux community input with their one hour "linkage" sessions with organizations that already have standing in the system and not enough time engaging in real public participation by allowing discussion with citizens who are granted a mere three minute audience before them. Time spent attending conferences, ribbon cuttings and graduations does not equal a job well done when so many of our students won't make it to that new school or graduation ceremony--or when their diploma only leads to remedial classes at college. 

The Board Chair is the public voice of the Board but too often the statements from the Chair were outrageous disconnects from reality. They seemed to be more concerned about defending appearances than admitting the truth of the situation and legitmately assuring taxpayers, voters and parents that they were actually working on solutions. 

And that was the rub---actually working. Fox is right again in saying that anyone with a full time job or running their own business finds it difficult to participate in the process because of the enormous amount of unproductive time being a BOE member requires. No one has had the sense to actually say---"This is a huge waste of time which could be better spent on other tasks".  This time wasting is a product of the education culture which believes that time in seat equals and educuation, seniority equals a pay raise and everyone is on salary and gets paid whether they produce or not. 

I am concerned that Fox doesn't appear have the inclination to take the reins of leadership and move the Board toward change in as agressive a manner as may need to be done. He's got a lot of dead weight to move around and it's going to take some firm resolve and willingness to inconvience and perhaps even offend in order to move this Board, and MNPS forward. In the aftermath of Garcia, offending, may be a touchy subject but there is a difference between his 'culture of fear' and insisting that we focus, stay on task and get things done as quickly as possible. The education of these children can't be paused while the adults hold meetings and take their time figuring out what to do. The educational clock of these students is ticking and the BOE clock should tick twice as loudly regardless of whether that's inconvenient or offensive.

McCain on education choice

Senator John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention contained these words regarding education:

Equal access to public education has been gained, but what is the value of access to a failing school?

We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice.

Let’s remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work.

When a public school fails to meet its obligations to students, parent — when it fails to meet its obligations to students, parents deserve a choice in the education of their children. And I intend to give it to them.

Some may choose a better public school. Some may choose a private one. Many will choose a charter school. But they will have the choice, and their children will have that opportunity.

Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucrats. I want schools to answer to parents and students.

And when I’m president, they will.

I'd add taxpayers and voters in that list of who schools need to answer to. I'm disappointed that he didn't mention homeschooling as an option but he didn't exclude it either unlike the Obama endorsing National Education Association who would like to kill the option altogether.

No smoke filled teacher's lounge

Back in the olden days of my public education experience the teacher's lounge was a point of contention with many students in high school. While it was legal for many of the students to smoke---they couldn't do it on campus. What galled them was that the teacher's lounge was always smoke filled. It was a lesson in 'rank has its privileges'. 

With the help of Coordinated School Health, part of the teacher's lounge at Clifton Hills Elementary [Chattanooga, TN] now doubles as a fitness center for teachers and staff.  Scarbrough says "they come early, they stay late, they grade papers at home and unfortunately they don't have a whole lot of time for exercise on their own.The center features two exercise bikes, a set of hand weights, and resistance bands. WDEF TV

Obviously we've turned some kind of weird corner when the teachers have exercise equipment but there isn't money or time for student physical eduacation programs. Maybe if the students had a union...

I'm inactive

Some of you may remember that the Metro Nashville Council appointed me to the Metro Nashville Public School Board in the Summer of 2006. After being 'hired' in order to get paid I was required to fill out an application. This week I've gotten two messages from MNPS warning me:

Dear Applicant,

According to our records, you have not logged on to your application with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools for the last 120 days. Therefore, we are moving your application to an Inactive status. Should you wish to reactivate your application, you may log on to your application and do so at any time. Thank you for your interest in MNPS.

I thought the whole application process was inappropriate and cumbersome to start with. It took weeks for them to refund the fee for the 'mandatory' background check that's not actually mandatory for school board members. Hopefully, opting out of their inactive warnings won't take as long. 

Thursday, September 04, 2008

She's a winner!

VP nominee Gov. Sarah Palin was fabulous last night. The women of the Brooks' household were so excited to see this strong woman, mom and wife. I was so thankful my children got to see what was possible. I was thankful that it's going to be a conservative woman who makes it to the White House first and it won't be because she was married to a former president while wedded to the wrong headed feminists of yesteryear but because she'd worked hard at serving her communities and that hard work was noticed. Her road started by volunteering to help in her children's school and may very well include being the very first female president of this great nation before her political journey ends.

From my point of view I was excited to finally see Palin begin to put the lie to much of the nasty elements of the left have offered over and over that she wasn't ready and didn't have the experience necessary. Obviously, they were stunned she'd done so well last night after the week they'd given her. They expected a mouse of a woman and she roared! She strode onto that stage a confident woman ready accept the job of vice-president with full knowledge, by then, that she wasn't going to be coddled because she was a girl. No pantsuits for her. Her hair was done up and her heels were on. She was the sort of feminist I'm proud to vote for, dressed for battle as only a woman can be.

Last night she pushed back at the nastiest, most hateful, most despicable tactics I've seen in my lifetime which came from the bottom feeders of the political arena. Former presidental candidate Mike Huckabee was right when he called the media and left wing attacks on Palin as "Tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert." Seriously, what hope is there for the Democrat Party when these forces are driving their policy?

The more the Democrats and their Daily Kos and MoveOn handlers demean small town people (who vote), their mayors (who vote), mothers (who vote), women (who vote) and parents who suddenly find themselves grandparents (who vote) who is going to be left to vote for them? We may be clinging to God and guns but they are clinging to a view of America that Rudy Guiliani acknowledged last night which discounts most of America because it isn't as comopolitian or flashy as they think it should be. Because we're on the right side of the political world we're unsophisticated rubes. One female talking head the other day said that the women supporting Palin weren't like the college educated women supporting Hillary Clinton. She was right, we're not like them but that doesn't make us uneducated as well as unsophisticated! Is there no end to their ability to insult voters?

How is it that Palin's daughter's mistake is a deal breaker in their eyes, but Bill Clinton's conduct isn't? How is it that a man who has spent more time writing about himself and campaigning for president is considered more qualified to run this nation than any mother of five? The sound bites from Obama this week have regularly referred to her as a small town mayor and completely ignored her two years as governor of Alaska in a desperate effort to make her less than what she is because he is less than what he says.

And while it's been frustrating to see the obvious hatchet job the media and their Democrat friends are doing on Palin it was great to see her zing them last night. She wasn't hateful or angry, though I've no doubt her opposition will say she was. I found it charming that she leaned into the podium, made that mom face that says "You should know better" because they should. I'm looking forward to her being the Speaker of the Senate and giving them that same look. This is a woman used to getting things done and I'm looking forward to her getting things done in Washington DC.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Get 'em before they're gone

A homeschool mom named Rebecca Reynolds is on the ball and has created this great graphic for Cafe Press items. Her store is here. I love this one. This is going to sell out fast.

She's got some others...Dudes for Palin, and the "We can do it" WWII graphic saying "Strong Girls Vote Palin/McCain".

All of it on T-shirts, mugs, buttons, bibs---and it's Cafe Press so if you don't see it on what you want, ask.

Every life a wanted life

So Republican VP nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her family get one more chance to prove they're pro-life. It's another chance to show America that this candidate has even more in common with Americans as she finds herself among thousands of parents who suddenly find themselves in this very same situation. The Palins are not letting the embarrassment of a teen-age, out of wedlock pregnancy on the cusp of mom's huge new career path as vice-president override the value of their newest family member. There may not have been a worse time for this to have occurred but the newest little Palin is here and is being warmly welcomed into what is obviously a remarkable family. I hope that the nation will do the same. A man wiser than I, who actually had to walk through this very scenario, said "There are no illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents". He was right. We welcome the child. We help the parents in their new situation.

It's disappointing when children make choices that we wish they hadn't. We always hope that they won't follow our own bad mistakes. However, sometimes they do and as parents our job is to love and support them and help them get back on track. Bristol Palin and her finance are following a path her parents took. Thankfully, they've lasted 20 years. There is a good chance Bristol and her fiance could also do as well. It'll be tough but it's possible.

I'm sure there are those on the left side of the political spectrum who will point their judgmental fingers at this family, cackle with glee and say the Palins' couldn't walk the talk regarding 'family values'. What they fail to understand is that family values isn't living life perfectly, because life never is perfect. It's how you handle life when it isn't perfect. The way the Palin's are handling this episode reveals that they are not the stereotype that the abortionists love to paint right-wing religious folks as being in order to further their own agenda. Instead of shunning her and throwing her out of the family for bringing shame on them all at this most public time of their lives the Palins have decided to handle this honestly, forthrightly and with love. I admire and respect that. I have no respect for what Obama would do:

"If my daughter makes a mistake, I do not want her punished with a baby."

Babies are not punishment.

It's my hope that McCain will not reconsider his choice of Sarah Palin as vice-president and hang tough. She's still the same Sarah Palin with even more perspective to add to McCain's administration.

Statement from Sarah and Todd Palin

ARLINGTON, VA -- Today, Sarah and Todd Palin issued the following statement regarding today's Reuters story:

"We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.

"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates."



Watching the news shows which were following Hurricane Gustav it was only this morning when the Today show interviewed FEMA head Michael Brown that I heard the first reminder that what has really changed since Katrina is that Bobby Jindal, the REPUBLICAN, governor of Louisiana, is now in charge. We didn't have New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin having a turf war with former Governor Kathleen Blanco. We didn't have both of them sitting on their hands while simultaneously wringing them and not actually leading--something voters expected from them. Neither one of them stepping up and initiating the paperwork to let the Feds in yet expecting the Fed's to fix their mess. We didn't have a repeat of all those school busses parked in a flood to remind us that those that should have evacuated people had the resources to do it but didn't.

There were certainly a lot of lessons learned the last time around but let's not forget that Bush and "Brownie" are still around but Blanco isn't. She and Nagin cost this nation an untold resources and lives. Thank God this time around things were different.