Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Coming Apart

David Brooks gives Charles Murray's new book a good review.
I’ll be shocked if there’s another book this year as important as Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart.” I’ll be shocked if there’s another book that so compellingly describes the most important trends in American society.
Spencerblog concurs.

UPDATE: Except maybe for Brooks' suggesting about requiring the jamming together of the two "tribes" into a National Service Program. Color me agnostic.

Commander in Cheap

If we're going to cut the military budget, it's best to stay on offense. At least drones are relatively cheap

Teacher of the Decade

The face of what's wrong with teachers unions

From the New York Post: 
Deemed a danger to kids, the typing teacher with a $10 million real estate portfolio hasn’t been allowed in a classroom for more than a decade, but still collects $100,049 a year in city salary — plus health benefits, a growing pension nest egg, vacation and sick pay.
Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo can call for better teacher evaluations until they’re blue-faced, but Rosenfeld and six peers with similar gigs costing about $650,000 a year in total salaries are untouchable. Under a system shackled by protections for tenured teachers, they can’t be fired, the DOE says.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Scapegoating JoePa

Michael Novack says the lilliputians on the Penn State Board of Trustees gave Joe Paterno a raw deal.
 First news of the Sandusky scandal, in which longtime defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually molesting underage boys, broke in March 2011, and it came before the board of trustees that June. They said it was not a Penn State problem, because Sandusky had left the university in 1999, though he continued to use an office there for several more years. It was a problem for the institution Sandusky had founded, the Second Mile organization for youngsters. 
Then, quite suddenly in November 2011, with a huge national scandal erupting, the board suddenly acted as if the burden were on them. They did not weigh their own responsibility, their own inaction, their own failure to get to the bottom of the scandal of five months earlier. In a fit of what to many alumni seems to have been fear for themselves, the board’s members ducked their own responsibility, and in the most ignoble and impersonal way, made JoePa, the moral giant of Penn State, a moral outcast.
What did they do? Despite the fact that JoePa had said he was going to resign after the 2011 season was over, they gave Joe (after nearly 60 years of leadership unparalleled in the annals of any university) over to the national press and the national mob as a scapegoat, to bear the whole heartbreaking scandal on his shoulders, to be burned as a live offering, in expiation of their sins.

The End Is Here

Walter Russell Mead is trying to help his fellow liberals get it through their heads: The "blue" governing model is over, kaput; it simply doesn't work anymore...
The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore. The gaps between the social system we inhabit and the one we now need are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper over them. But even as the failures of the old system become more inescapable and more damaging, our national discourse remains stuck in a bygone age. The end is here, but we can’t quite take it in.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The State of Education: Everything's Feinberg

Haverford's Larry Feinberg has a few ideas about what we can do to improve the situation in Chester Upland. Not all of them are bad, just some of them. And he thinks most public schools are just fine.

I respectfully, disagree.

My print column is up.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thank You for Not Smoking

P.J. O'Rourke on why the progressive elite is so anti-smoking:
Smoking kills smokers, which is about what they deserve for engaging in such lowbrow, wrong-headed, retarded, vulgarian activity, except they get sick first and that drives up the cost of a single-payer national health care system, plus their second-hand smoke is worse yet because it is a, yuck, inhalation hand-me-down from uncouth people who probably haven’t flossed, and it kills progressive elites who don’t even know anyone who smokes while also releasing greenhouse gases and stinking up the cheery curtains that elites hang in public housing group activity areas to brighten the lives of the underprivileged who are confined to concrete tower blocks with six-by-eight-foot living rooms, seven-foot ceilings, plexiglass windows, and sheet-metal doors with a dozen locks on them. Smoking is wrong.
Read it all.

Update: More...
The elite resent the poor because, although poor people have few pleasures and many troubles, they also have a lot of fun. You can see it in their music videos. The elites whine and mope. You can hear it on NPR. 
America is a meritocracy. Elites think those poor people should earn their fun, the way Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewinsky. And, being that America is a meritocracy, poor people obviously have no merit or they’d be rich and could afford to join the progressive elite.

How Thick is Your Bubble?

Charles Murray has written a new book called Coming Apart which details how over the last 50 years our society has become more stratified, with the smart, rich and well to do moving away from living anywhere near the not-so-smart, poor and disadvantaged.

I'm going to get it and read it.

But first I took this quiz which supposedly measures the thickness of the cocoon I've wrapped myself in.

Sample question: "Have you ever participated in a parade that did not involve global warming, gay rights, or a war protest?"

My score was 7-20 and I have the certificate to prove it. It comes with the advice: "You need to get out more."

Fishtown, here I come.

The State of Our Future

Stupid is, As Stupid Sez

Nick Gillespie thinks the dumbest thing said by our president Tuesday night was this:
We also know that when students don't walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state -- every state -- requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. (Applause.)
Writes Gillespie...
There's no question that kids who don't graduate high school don't fare well in the world. There's similarly little question that turning schools into even-more obvious holding pens for such kids will accomplish nothing more than driving down whatever education may still happen inside the brick buildings we misidentify as schools.
Read it all here.

But I think Gillespie is wrong. That wasn't the dumbest thing our president said. This was...
Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.
That money we spent at war? That was all borrowed money! We will be paying off that debt for decades. Or our children will. Now the president wants to borrow more money and somehow thinks he can pay down the debt with it, if only he spends half of it on "nation building." Makes you wonder if this president has a good grasp of how money works.

He sounds like one of those wives who go shopping, comes home with a bunch of clothes, then tell their husbands how much money they "saved" because they were all "bargains."


The State of the County is...

... Serious. From education to industry change is coming to Delco and it will take smarts, guts, and wherewithal to move forward. My print column is up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Redistribution, Baby, Redistribution

From today's the Wall Street Journal:
Remember the moment in 2008 when Charlie Gibson of ABC News asked Senator Barack Obama why he would support raising the capital gains tax even though "revenues from the tax increased" when the rate fell? Mr. Obama's famous reply: "I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness." Well, we were warned.
Q. What sort of president would prefer taking in fewer revenues to the government as long as he could stick it to the "wealthy"?
A. A bad one.

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bill Cosby on education: More funding is not the answer

(Posted by Dannytheman)

Dr. Cosby can't seem to get people to listen to his story in the inner city.
H/T to Caroline May at the Daily Caller

According to Cosby, the country can try as many education reforms as it wants but the real key is getting parents involved and concerned about their children's education. Cosby added that additional funding is not the answer to America's education woes.

Somebody better tell Chester Upland!!

According to Cosby, his mother was the one who sought out this teacher.

"For some reason, I wound up in the front seat directly in front of her desk," he said. "When I graduated from 6th grade, I went from low grades to all A's because this woman stayed on my case and she wrote on my report card, which I have today — this white Orthodox Russian woman, 4'11'' — 'I'm afraid that as William moves on to 7th grade' — which was junior high school — 'that if he does not have the same intervention, that he will slide back to his old ways.'"

"I am telling all you parents," Cosby said. "You need more Mary B. Forchicks in the classroom.

I have spent some time with Dr. Cosby, he has real answers. People need to listen and react.  He rubs elbows with some true power people and he shares his thought process by telling tales that hit home with there humor and truth. I shared my story with him of a nun who was the teacher in my life who made me reach higher. He used my story, slightly embellished, about 2 hours later on the stage he was doing his show on.  I don't see him as often as I use to, but when he speaks I listen, because he truly knows what is needed.

As Long As They Can Send Their Kids Elsewhere

In a Letter to the Editor in today's Daily Times, Chester Upland union leader Gloria Zoranski argues for more funding from the state to support the district.

She closes her plea with this:
I urge Gov. Corbett and Secretary Tomalis to resolve this crisis, invest in Chester Upland’s public schools, and ensure that the students of our community receive the public education to which they are entitled.
Given that fact that a disproportionate percentage of public school teachers send their own kids to private schools why is it so important that students of any community receive a "public education" as opposed to say, a good, rock solid, competent education?

More and more low-income families are choosing charters, religious and private schools when they have the opportunity to do so. When they do they are just following the example of public school teachers.

According to 2004 study by the Thomas Fordham Institute...
In Philadelphia, 44 percent of the teachers put their children in private schools; in Cincinnati, 41 percent; Chicago, 39 percent; Rochester, N.Y., 38 percent. The same trends showed up in the San Francisco-Oakland area, where 34 percent of public school teachers chose private schools for their children; 33 percent in New York City and New Jersey suburbs; and 29 percent in Milwaukee and New Orleans.
haven't seen a more recent study, but it's hard to believe that those numbers have changed drastically in the last few years, unless it's thanks to the closing of a good number of Catholic schools. It's not as if public schools in those cities have become noticeably better. I guess my question for Ms. Zoranski is what percentage of Chester Upland teachers allow their own kids to Chester Upland's schools? I doubt she knows. I doubt she wants to know.

Who Pays What in Taxes

About Mitt Romney's taxes...
Between 87 percent and 97 percent of American taxpayers have an effective tax rate that is lower than the 15 percent rate under which Mitt Romney says he falls.
But, hey, let's not let the facts get in the way of a good ol' class-warfare smear.
Democrats, "progressives" and other connivers hoping to capitalize on the ignorance of the Menckenian "boobeoisie" made much of Mr. Romney's statement that his effective tax rate is about 15 percent.
They then bloviated along some variation of the line that "here's yet another rich bastard taxed at nearly half the rate of most working Americans!" Or, as one New Jersey newspaper editorialist put it, it's yet further proof that the "game is rigged for the fat cats."
How embarrassing and shameful for those lacking the intellectual wherewithal to understand the facts and for those intentionally misrepresenting them.
Read the rest here...

Sympathy for T.O.

Call me a bleeding heart, but after reading this I feel sorry for Terrell Owens.

UPDATE: Look at the size of those mitts. No wonder he was such a great receiver.

From the story:

It's the sad old stereotypical song of the up-from-nothing black athlete: He let other people take care of things…
"I hate myself for letting this happen," he says. "I believed that they had my back when they said, 'You take care of the football, and we'll do the rest.' And in the end, they just basically stole from me."
He'd be even more sympathetic if he didn't blame everyone else for every bad thing that has happened to him. But then he wouldn't be T.O. if he didn't.

Doubling Down on Solyndra

The president doubles down on clean energy. Not because he believes in it but because he needs the campaign dollars of the environmental/watermellon * left.

Holman Jenkins explains...
Not for nothing did Canadian Resources Minister Joe Oliver, after Mr. Obama's Keystone decision, gripe about the influence of "billionaire socialists from the United States." 
No, Joe had it right.

* watermelons are green on the outside, red on the inside. For more on that observation see this...

Charting a New Course in Chester

Swarthmore College music professor John Alston is the founder of the Chester Upland School for the Arts. He partnered with the school district to start this promising school. Now four years later, budget cuts and the district's reorganization has left it bereft of teachers and in limbo.

He is convinced that its future rests on it becoming a charter school. My print column is up.

UPDATE: "lfeinberg" comments:
CMON GIL - next column you'll be telling us that charters and vouchers cure the common cold.

The DING DING moment was when the Governor's budget cut Chester Upland's budget by $29,000 per classroom while it only cut Radnor's by $950 per class. 
I am hoping "lfeinberg" is Larry Feinberg, the Haverford School Board director and Chairman of the Delaware County School Boards Legislative Council, I will be contacting him soon to find out.

The "ding ding" moment he refers to came twice to Alston. First when the CU Super Greg Thornton convinced his group to partner with the school district and second when the district was forced to cut 70 percent of his teaching staff and he realized that the only way for them to create and keep a great school was to be free of district and union interference with the power to hire their own teachers and staff. 

lfeinberg makes a fair point. One that people should remember. 

They should also remember this, summed up neatly by Gerald Ford: 

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. 

Except that in this case, as I understand it the state cut its subsidy to Chester by 20 percent. If my math is correct that means the state was funding the district to the tune of $150,000 per classroom and cut that down to $120,000 per classroom. If it cut Radnor's slice so little it's because it was giving it so little in the first place.

There will be no forthcoming columns about vouchers and charters curing the common cold. But there might be about how they provide a chance to improve the educational opportunities and outcomes for a great many Chester students.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Last Harrah

Chester Upland school teacher Sara Ferguson has been invited to attend President Obama's State of the Union address tonight.

No doubt, Ms. Ferguson came to the attention of the White House through her appearances on MSNBC's Big Ed Show.

For those unfamiliar with Big Ed, he is a big fan of huge, intrusive government and doesn't care much for Republicans. He also believes that no amount of money is too much to throw at our public school districts. After all, it's "for the kids," as they say.

Ms. Ferguson is being lionized for her offer to continue working even if the district wasn't able to pay her. At least for a little while. Other Chester Upland teachers said they would do the same. And yet, none of them, as far as I know, have offered to take less in salary and see their benefits cut in the long term so that more teachers can be hired.

The fact is, the district was never in any real danger of being shut down immediately. And if teachers weren't paid for a couple of weeks, no doubt, they would have been paid eventually.

There are a few heroically good teachers working in Chester today and Sara Ferguson may be one of them.

But there are heroes and there are heroes. The firemen who rushed into the World Trade Center to save people's lives are one kind of hero. Teachers willing to wait a couple of week until a school district is given the money to pay them are another kind, a far lesser kind. What, after all, are they really risking and sacrificing?

The oohing and ahhhing over this obvious P.R. play, especially when it comes to the media, is embarrassing. We journalists are supposed to be a little more discerning when it comes to these sort of attempts to play us.

This whole thing reeks of political calculation and cheap theatrics. In this election year, the president is counting on public school teachers and their families to turn out for him. But even he can't protect them from what is coming; more budget cuts, more free market solutions and greater educational freedom for poor kids.

A Hero Passes

This email arrived this morning.

You're a 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded and dying in a jungle in Vietnam. 
It's November 11, 1967.   
Your unit is outnumbered 8-1 and the enemy fire is so intense from 100 yards away, that your CO (commanding officer) has ordered the MedEvac helicopters to stop coming in. 
You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns and you know you're not getting out. Your family is half way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out, you know this is the day.
          Then - over the machine gun noise - you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter.
You look up to see a Huey coming in. But.. It doesn't seem real because no MedEvac markings are on it. 
Captain Ed Freeman is coming in for you. 

He's not MedEvac so it's not his job, but he heard the radio call and decided he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire anyway. 
          Even after the MedEvacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway.
And he drops it in and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 3 of you at a time on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire to the doctors and nurses and safety. 
And, he kept coming back!! 13 more times!!  Until all the wounded were out. No one knew until the mission was over that the Captain had been hit 4 times in the legs and left arm. 
He took 29 of you and your buddies out that day. Some would not have made it without the Captain and his Huey.  
Medal of Honor Recipient, Captain Ed Freeman, United States Air Force, died last Wednesday at the age of 70, in Boise, Idaho.
          May God Bless and Rest His Soul...
          Now... YOU pass this along. Honor this real hero.

More Laws, Better Government?

On Fox News Sunday, Speaker John Boehner answered a question from Chris Wallace just the right way.

Wallace pointed out Congress has only passed 80 new laws and most of them housekeeping, keep the government going laws. Isn't that the sign of a congressional failure?

"Is the measure of the job Congress does the number of laws we passed?" Boehner replied" "No, it isn't. Most Americans think we have too many laws already."
Of course Boehner added that the House has passed a bunch of jobs bills that didn't pass the Senate. He failed to forcefully point out that the Senate is controlled by Democrats.

Busy Day

Monday, January 23, 2012

What Makes a Rainbow?...

... Is one of the questions parents fear being asked by their children. Spencerblog is not afraid. Spencerblog knows the answer. And it is: "I don't know. Go ask your mother."

Chip Off the Old Cell Block

Why the Fed Slept

Samuelson explains:
There's a paradox to economic policy. The more it succeeds at prolonging short-term prosperity, the more it inspires long-run destabilizing behavior by businesses, banks, consumers, investors and government. If they think basic stability is assured, they will assume greater risks -- loosen credit standards, borrow more, engage in more speculation, relax wage and price behavior -- that ultimately make the economy less stable. Long booms threaten deep busts...
... The Fed slept mainly because it overlooked the possibility of boom-bust. It didn't recognize that its success at sustaining prosperity -- for which Greenspan was lionized -- might sow the seeds of a larger failure. It bought into an overblown notion of economic "progress."
And there is every chance that politicians and the Fed will fall asleep at the wheel again. Read it all.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Remembering JoePa

[Posted By Jake]

It's been a sad day, made even sadder by pundits and commentators weighing in on Coach Paterno's life with no real understanding of the man. Nate Bauer, the editor of BlueWhiteIllustrated.com does the best job of capturing the essence of JoePa,
We haven't just lost a man, we've lost an ideal.
"Believe deep down in your heart that you're destined to do great things." That was the mantra so many students plastered on the backs of their "White Out" T-shirts a few years ago. Cliched as it may have been, surrounded by a world that betrayed the sentiment at seemingly every turn, the place and spirit of Happy Valley revolved around the concept.
The column is titled Better Selves and it's worth reading http://bwi.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1321633 

Update -- the students have appropriately called for a "White Out" today at Penn State. Normally reserved for home football games, it is a heartfelt way to remember a great man.

Joe Paterno R.I.P.

CBS news is reporting again, that Joe Paterno has passed away. So long, Joe

Free Enterprise in Education

Around the world, when it comes to education the free enterprise system works surprisingly well. Meanwhile, America is stuck with a bunch of government school systems that would make the old Soviet Union blush.

My print column is up.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

It's Newt

Gingrich wins in S.C. Reportedly, does especially well among married women. Take that ex-married women and ABC.

Spencerblog Records It's 5,000th Post

Jake, you beat me to it with "Sad News." More here on JoePa.

Sad News

[Posted By Jake]

Just got a call from the real Jake in State College that the Twitter universe is exploding with the news that Joe Paterno has taken a turn for the worse.
We are one family that's hoping and praying it isn't true.

Update -- It's just so sad. Comcast Sportsnet is reporting that Sue Paterno has summoned family and close friends and colleagues to say their final good-byes.

Update II -- Despite reports of his death by CBS News and others, JoePA is still fighting the good fight. How telling that the media once again got it wrong.

Update III -- Hearts are heavy across Nittany Nation. JoePa has passed away.
"Death comes to all
But great achievements raise a monument
Which shall endure until the sun grows old."

Scare Me Twice, Shame On Me

A few years ago I grabbed this movie out of the Media Library and watched it one afternoon with my then 8 or 9 year old daughter. It was unrated and I thought it was just some family friendly ghost story. 

It was made in 1989, and was very creepy and good. But one scene was so scary that I screamed and my kid burst into tears.

I got a lot of grief from her mother later. Now that she's older, M.R. Spencer she can't wait to see the remake.

Neither can I. It comes out Feb. 3.


The Mourning After

Mark Steyn sees this as a metaphor for the future of western civilization. He's probably right. But he'll be the last to abandon ship!

Steyn writes:
There was no orderly evacuation from the Costa Concordia, just chaos punctuated by individual acts of courage from, for example, an Hungarian violinist in the orchestra and a ship’s entertainer in a Spiderman costume, both of whom helped children to safety, the former paying with his life.
The miserable Captain Schettino, by contrast, is presently under house arrest, charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship. His explanation is that, when the vessel listed suddenly, he fell into a lifeboat and was unable to climb out. Seriously. Could happen to anyone, slippery decks and all that. Next thing you know, he was safe on shore, leaving his passengers all at sea. On the other hand, the audio of him being ordered by Coast Guard officers to return to his ship and refusing to do so is not helpful to this version of events.
(First reader to get the reference in the headline wins... high praise.)

UPDATE: No! It has nothing to do with this!

Welcome to Fishtown

Charles Murray looks at America and the direction we're headed. Hint: It's not good.
America is coming apart. For most of our nation's history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. "The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people," wrote Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of American democracy, in the 1830s. "On the contrary, they constantly keep on easy terms with the lower classes: They listen to them, they speak to them every day. 
Americans love to see themselves this way. But there's a problem: It's not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s.

Tucker Max Grows Up

A long, but fascinating interview with bad-boy, sex-crazed, millionaire author Tucker "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" Max. Even made more interesting by the interviewer, Michael Ellsberg, and the ultimate revelations about himself.

Good reading for a snowy Saturday.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Skin Flick

This movie was nuts!

We saw it at Cinema 16:9 in Lansdowne the other day. (First time there and what an awesome little theater it is.)

Spencerblog gives it four acorns. High praise.

By Popular Demand

Work, Baby, Work

Cheri Jacobus sea: If Obama said what Newt said about black kids getting jobs he'd get a standing ovation too.
When Newt Gingrich suggested inner-city kids be provided the opportunity to earn money as janitors in their schools, the left responded with faux shock and indignation, immediately launching into its tired, predictable tirade, calling the Republican “racist” and accusing him of being condescending and insensitive. The audience at the South Carolina Fox News debate gave Newt a standing ovation. Obama campaign mastermind David Alxelrod is probably irritated he didn’t think of it first.
Read it all.

Email of the Month

I get a lot of emails, none nicer or more appreciated than the one below...

Hi Gil -
I just wanted to thank you for your attempt to cool the fires blazing over CHOP's alleged denial of a kidney transplant for Amelia Rivera due to her "mental retardation".  I'm a nurse who has worked at CADES (Children and Adult Disability and Educational Services) for the last 8 years in their Adult Day Program.  I've become intimately connected with consumers with varying degrees of disabilities, including mental retardation. as well as their families.  I can't think of a more devastating circumstance than to have a child with profound physical and intellectual disabilities, and I also know that parents of these children often have to fight for every single benefit and special services for their children.  ADA aside - money is a key factor in securing the optimal services for these children, and funding sources continue to diminish.
You are right - CHOP is a world class, honorable and amazing institution that we are fortunate to have so close by.  There is no way that this transplant team simply refused treatment "because your daughter has mental disabilities".  Period.  But
I have no doubt that in the parents' minds, that was the essence of the decision from the transplant team.
Over my brief 8 years in this field, I've seen children and adults with profound intellectual and physical disabilites have all kinds of required surgeries.  If CHOP's team carefully evaluated the big picture of Amelia's health issues and determined that a huge procedure like a transplant  is unadvisable, as horrific as it is for the parents who love Amelia dearly, surely there are many other factors contributing to CHOP's denial than just her mental retardation. 
Her family, in these 3 short years, has surely been traumatized time and again, first by the disappointment and shock of having a profoundly ill child, and subsequently as new problems are discovered and more devastating diagnoses revealed.  They love her fully and deeply and the medical profession has given them bad news before this transplant denial.  The is the most serious in terms of Amelia's life expectancy, and therefore the most unbearable for them.
Didn't mean to go on and on, but as a medical professional and a realist (as nurses tend to be), I knew when I first heard this story that there was much more to it than the public can know.  I just really appreciate you bravely coming to CHOP's defense and wanted to tell you so, because all your emails today surely won't be as affirming as this one!
I almost always appreciate your column!!  As an editorialist, I know that's okay with you.
Leslie Erickson BSN, RN

Travesty in Manhattan

New York City's fanatical gun laws resulted in the arrest of a West Virginia nurse visiting Ground Zero who has a license to carry. Stupidly, she thought she was coming to a city that respected a law-abiding citizen's constitutional rights.

After seeing a sign that said firearm were not permitted at the site, she attempted to do the right thing and check her gun with a security guard. Instead, she was arrested and charged with breaking the city's anti-gun law and faces up to 15 years in prison.    

This is an absolute travesty.

Read this excellent editorial at NRO and I dare you to disagree.

The Nicker Man

I saw this movie. I remember it being bad. But not this bad.

And still, how can you not be a Nick Cage fan?

Green Dream Money-Maker for Cronies

More on Obama's Green Dream Machine from IBD:
The Obama administration promised a future with a clean, green economy. Instead, it's left us with failed government "investments" in projects driven by politics rather than prudence.
While campaigning for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama swore he'd create millions of green jobs.
"We'll invest $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable energy, creating 5 million new green jobs that pay well, can't be outsourced and help end our dependence on foreign oil," he said that fall.
Three years into the Obama presidency, the country has yet to see a wave of green-collar jobs. What it has seen is government pouring taxpayers' money into pet projects that wasted the cash. A particularly sore example is Solyndra, which not only went bankrupt after taking in more than $500 million in taxpayers' dollars, but also became the target of an FBI probe.

Friday Funnies

CHOP Chopped

About that little girl who is being denied a life-saving kidney transplant by the mean and insensitive doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia... my print column is up.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reasonable Democrats

House Dems want to set limits on oil profits.
Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a "Reasonable Profits Board" to control gas profits. 
The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a "windfall profit tax" as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit. 
I'm still furious about the unreasonable profits movie theaters make on popcorn. When is Congress going to do something about that?  

Who's Cooler?

OK, we'll admit that Barry's cooler than Ricky.

But is he cooler than Mittens? Probably. But how important is cool when it comes to governing? Spencerblog sez Not very.

President Ratched

The most reasonable economic liberal in America, Robert Samuelson, sez President Obama's blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline is  is dumber than dumb. It's cuckoo.
President Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is an act of national insanity. It isn’t often that a president makes a decision that has no redeeming virtues and — beyond the symbolism — won’t even advance the goals of the groups that demanded it. All it tells us is that Obama is so obsessed with his reelection that, through some sort of political calculus, he believes that placating his environmental supporters will improve his chances...
It won't. Robert Redford says different. But Robert Redford is an actor. And a goofball. Obama has fewer excuses.

UPDATE: I don't quite understand how this happened, but the original post linked to a different version of the Samuelson column on this subject. The new link goes to the original piece I found at Realclearpolitics.  I think it's much stronger. Why there are two versions, I don't really know.

Read it all.

Did You Say Pipeline?

(Posted by Dannytheman)  H/T Glenn Foden

Barack Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

At the Huffington Post, Robert Redford thanks President Obama for "Standing up to Big Oil" in refusing to approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada.

More accurately, Obama didn't stand up to Big Oil, he caved to theatrical environmentalists like Mr. Redford, costing Americans jobs, energy security and, in the process snubbed a friend and ally. The project is almost literally a no-brainer. It's environmentally responsible and will provide thousands of good jobs to the people who will build it.

But there is no reasoning with the likes of Mr. Redford who asserts that project "promised riches for the oil giants and an environmental disaster for the rest of us."

Let's face it, Mr. Redford made millions as an actor, making fun films like The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That is, by getting people to suspend disbelief. That's OK, for a couple of hours a week sitting in a darkened theater but when it comes to the nation's energy policy, facing reality is in order.

America needs oil to prosper and it is going to need it for decades to come. And it is better to get it and drill for it closer to home than to get it from the Middle East.

Environmental zealots can demonize big oil all they want but it remains (along with natural gas and coal) the cheapest most reliable energy source we've got. And if we don't take Canada's oil, China will.

Sez Mr. Redford:
Economic security is to be found in clean energy not in dirty energy that threatens us with oil spills and ever worsening harm from climate change."
This is beyond silly. There is no economic security to be found in clean energy... the technology simply isn't there yet. Just ask the Germany.

From Der Spiegel:
For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no electricity. The days are short, the weather is bad and the sky is overcast. 
 As is so often the case in winter, all solar panels more or less stopped generating electricity at the same time. To avert power shortages, Germany currently has to import large amounts of electricity generated at nuclear power plants in France and the Czech Republic. To offset the temporary loss of solar power, grid operator Tennet resorted to an emergency backup plan, powering up an old oil-fired plant in the Austrian city of Graz.
Who does Redford think he's fooling? I mean, Huffington Post readers are gullible but they're not stupid.

Of course, he and his fellow activists cheered when the President poured billions of taxpayer dollars into wonderful politically-connected "clean energy"companies like Solyndra, only to see them go belly-up and broke. For liberals, it's always the thought that counts.

Redford continues:
The president stood up to Big Oil and listened to Americans saying: "We're done with fossil fuel schemes that destroy our land, poison our water and wreak havoc with our climate so that oil companies can make out like bandits." Now we need to continue to stand with the president and make it clear that tar sands pipelines are not in our national interest.
Good thing when it came to his movies, Redford always had screenwriters. If he said such a flaky thing in a film, people would laugh all the way to the curb.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Congratulations! It's Not A Girl!

A Canadian doctor has an interesting idea to prevent the abortions of baby girls: Don't tell their mothers that their babies ARE girls.
Doctors should not tell pregnant women the sex of their baby until 30 weeks into a pregnancy, one physician is arguing, taking a stance that is sure to be controversial. 
By not revealing a fetus' sex, doctors could prevent abortions related to the sex of the baby, according to Dr. Rajendra Kale, interim editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The practice of "sex selection," or the aborting of female fetuses because of a preference for sons, is an issue in several Asian countries, and may also be done by some immigrants in Canada and the United States, Kale said.
Maybe doctors should tell them they're carrying puppies instead.

Obama to the Constitution's Advise and Consent Section: Drop Dead!

Even liberal legal experts say President Obama's recess appointments are in danger of being declared illegal by the federal courts.

A Brief Reprieve

Chester Upland gets $3.2 million and a brief reprieve. But it will be broke again next month. This is no way to run a school district.

Change is coming to Chester Upland. My print column is up.

On the bright side the Chester Clippers beat the Penn Wood Patriots last night and remained ranked No 1 in the state. If only the adults in charge of running the district were one-tenth as competent and committed to excellence as the kids and coaches in its basketball program.

Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor and Your Unsheathed Porn Stars

Porn Industry Mulls Leaving LA if Condoms Required
Aren't we building a film studio in Chester Township? Hey, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Raise Your Debt Limit Explained

Hey, You Ignorant Sluts...

The Corbett Administration lays out its position on the Chester Upland School District crisis...

Meanwhile, the head of the Chester Upland School Board sure picked the wrong week to quit...

Daily Times readers weigh in trying to calm down an hysterical Chester Upland parent...

Chester Upland: The Tip of the Iceberg

The financial crisis in Chester Upland is about to come to a head. A court hearing is scheduled for noon today. Negotiations continue that could lead to another takeover of the district by the state.

From our story:
With the district’s future uncertain, residents gathered to brainstorm ways to actively voice their concerns to state officials.
“For a long time, the voice of this community has been silent,” Tina Johnson told the crowd. “People just think they can do whatever they want to this community. We’re going to show up and let them know, ‘Not here.’”
This is just the sort of attitude that drives non-Chester residents crazy. Public demonstrations demanding money from others garner headlines and media attention but they also harden the hearts of the people who are asked to bail out incompetent and ineffective school managers. Just check the comments.

There is no way the Corbett Administration is going to give more money to Chester Upland without it having much more control over how that money is spent. To unconditionally bail out CU now without getting that control would be political suicide for Corbett. It would show his administration can be rolled. Other financially-troubled school districts (aren't they all?) will make similar demands on state taxpayers.

When the federal government bailed out private financial institutions during the 2008 crisis, the uproar from taxpayers was deafening. And yet, that money was paid back promptly and with interest. There is no such chance of that happening in Chester or with any other school district. Any money sent to a school district gets spent immediately and then more is asked for. That's what happened with all the federal "stimulus" money that came to Pennsylvania. It went to protecting public employees (i.e. teachers, cops, firemen, etc.) from the sort of layoffs being felt in the private sector. Well, that money is gone. It was spent under the Rendell Administration. Now in comes Corbett having to deal with the mess left behind. (Sound familiar?)

I don't know how this will be "resolved." But the days of school districts and teachers unions being able to pressure and buy governors and state legislatures into lavishing them with more and more money are quickly coming to an end.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Condemnation of Urination

Finally, something Bill Maher and I agree on.
If they were real Taliban, if they were people who burned down girls’ schools, and, you know, do honor rapes and throw acid in people’s faces, I’m not that upset about pissing on them.”
Neither am I.

Email of the Week

Dear Mr. Spencer,

       I know that Delco is Republican but aren't newspapers suppose to remain neutral?  Your editorial on CUSD is full of holes.  Did you forget that your own newspaper along with the Philadelphia Inquirer went to court to get Mr. Vahan Gureghian to open his books.  Have you ever visited CCS?  Not much different from CUSD except maybe a beautiful campus! If Mr. Vahan Gureghian is educating the students in Chester better than the public school, why are they being investigated for cheating on PSSA's? Did you know that Mr.Vahan Gureghian sends all his behavioral problem students back to the district along with many of the special education students? He can take the cream of the crop and still has to cheat on PSSA's? Doesn't that tell you something?  Or is Mr. Vahan Gureghian filling your pockets for some good press along with Corbett's and Pilleggi's? (sic) The district needs a new strong superintendent who can begin to make changes and hold the parents and students more accountable.  Every city that has a similar population to Chester has had the same problems as CUSD.  Putting a man who thinks education is a "for profit" venture, who can't keep teachers because he pays them so poorly is not the answer. 

Louise Murphy

To answer Ms. Murphy's questions.

1. Delco is not Republican. It's county government is Republican. There are many Democrats in the county, especially in the city of Chester.

2. News stories in newspapers are supposed to be factual and unbiased. I am an opinion columnist. My work is supposed to be factual and opinionated. I admit to be biased against waste, failure and fiscal insanity.

3. No, I did not forget that Mr. Vahan Gureghian had to be sued to open his books. Neither did I forget that Chester Community Charter School had to sue the CUSD to get the money to which it is entitled by state law. I just didn't mention either. There is only so much space in a newspaper column.

4. Yes I have visited CCS. I was impressed.

5.  Your question "If Mr. Vahan Gureghian is educating the students in Chester better than the public school, why are they being investigated for cheating on PSSA's?" contains a logical fallacy. CCS could be educating students better than the public school and still be investigated for cheating. Lots of public schools are under investigation for cheating on standardized tests. Being investigated and being found guilty are two different things.

6. No I didn't know that Mr. Vahan Guregahian sends "all his behavioral problem students back to the district and many of his special education students." And I don't believe that he does. In any case, charter schools have to follow the same laws as all other public schools when it comes to Special Ed and disabilities. If Mr. Vahan Guregahian doesn't do that, he can easily be brought to account.

7. The accusation that CCS takes the "cream of the crop" and "still has to cheat" is completely unsubstantiated. Parents "choose" to send their kids to CCS. And they are choosing to send them there by the thousands. What does that tell you, Ms. Murphy?

8. While Mr. Vahan Gureghian legally donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to GOP politicians, I have never been offered or taken a dime from him. The very suggestion that I have is both ignorant and silly. Meanwhile, the PSEA donates millions to politicians in Harrisburg to pass laws that directly benefit their members.

I don't know if Louise Murphy is a member of the PSEA but there is a Louise Murphy who is a Special Ed teacher for the Chester Upland School District. If they are, in fact, one and the same person, I hope - for the sake of her students - she is a better school teacher than she is a poison-pen letter writer.

P.S. While I don't consider myself a huge fan of Mr. Gureghian's, I have to admit he is a clever businessman. That anyone can make millions by getting parents to voluntarily choose to send their children to his school over the old public school alternative just shows how bad the old public school system truly is.

Is There Any Replacing Him?

Folcroft police and the Mackey family lose a loved one - a bomb-sniffing dog named Logan. My print column is up.

UPDATE: I just received this email:
Greetings Gil
After reading your story on Mackey & his dog’s unfortunate situation, I had to add to your observations.  I was Gene’s supervisor for those years on our prison’s working dog unit.  During that time I saw Gene strive to become a first class dog handler.  He always bonded with his assigned dogs, and most of the other compliment we maintained, better than some of the other handlers.  I guess he could relate on their level, which is not a bad thing.  He did possess an uncanny ability to recognize when one of our animals was in distress or about to become seriously ill before most others.  Many a night I was awakened by a phone call from Gene letting me know he was enroute to the animal emergency hospital with a dog that just didn’t look right….and he was always right – Gene Mackey was responsible for saving many of our working dogs because they were treated promptly and efficiently thanks to his intuitions.  I have yet to see any other dog handler with that unique ability.  I still miss Gene’s sense of humor and his talent.  I hope that the funding for another working dog can be raised so that Gene can continue to perform as a professional dog handler for the citizens of Folcroft and Delaware County – he very well deserves it. 
         John Miller 
         K-9 Lieutenant
         G.W. Hill Correctional Facility

Mackey mentioned Miller when I spoke with him and how much he learned from him. I'm sure he'll appreciate his kind words.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Bain of Our Existence

Holman Jenkins explains how private equity works in our economic system. And how it worked during the 1980s and 90s when Mitt Romney was making his fortune.
As a rule, private equity takes on the most troubled companies because turning them around offers the biggest profit opportunities. That's why private equity tends to generate more than its share of traumatic headlines. Look no further than Ripplewood Holdings' decision to put the maker of Twinkies into bankruptcy this week. It's the kind of decision that, were Ripplewood's principals ever to run for office, would get them savaged in an ad.
But guess what? Ripplewood also bought the company, Hostess Brands, out of bankruptcy three years ago, when it was called Interstate Bakeries. Ripplewood is just the latest manager to wrestle unsuccessfully with the company's fundamental problem, a unionized workforce in an industry where competitors aren't unionized.
Next time you're choosing a fattening indulgence in the checkout line, ask yourself if you're willing to pay extra so Twinkies and Wonder Bread (made by the same company) can arrive at the store on different trucks? So the driver can be excused from helping to unload? So the company can pay workers-comp costs way out of line the industry's? So a company with just 19,000 employees can administer 40 different pension plans?
We didn't think so...
... What does this have to do with the presidency? Perhaps not much, but one thing he (Romney) didn't learn at Bain Capital was to twiddle his thumbs because taking action might make somebody mad at him. That's not the worst qualification to bring to the Oval Office right now.
UPDATE: President Obama is already attempting to make political hay of Romney's time at Bain. This sort of turnabout will be fair play.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

And this:
CBS News counted 12 clean energy companies that are having trouble after collectively being approved for more than $6.5 billion in federal assistance. Five have filed for bankruptcy: The junk bond-rated Beacon, Evergreen Solar, SpectraWatt, AES' subsidiary Eastern Energy and Solyndra.
According to CBS News, Beacon Power, a "green energy storage company," recieved $43 million from the government. Standard and Poor's had given the project a rating of "CCC-plus." 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rick Reilly Tebowed

Rick Reilly believes in Tim Tebow.

Every week, Tebow picks out someone who is suffering, or who is dying, or who is injured. He flies these people and their families to the Broncos game, rents them a car, puts them up in a nice hotel, buys them dinner (usually at a Dave & Buster's), gets them and their families pregame passes, visits with them just before kickoff (!), gets them 30-yard-line tickets down low, visits with them after the game (sometimes for an hour), has them walk him to his car, and sends them off with a basket of gifts.
Home or road, win or lose, hero or goat.
Remember last week, when the world was pulling its hair out in the hour after Tebow had stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers with an 80-yard OT touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the playoffs? And Twitter was exploding with 9,420 tweets about Tebow PER SECOND. When an ESPN poll was naming him the most popular athlete in America?
Tebow was spending that hour talking to 16-year-old Bailey Knaub about her 73 surgeries so far and what TV shows she likes.

The Civility Project

GOP Cookout

The one in the blue suit looks a little like Newt.

Paul Krugman: Straw Man Slayer

Paul Krugman quotes a fictional character created by one of America's most left-wing filmmakers to demonize and caricature Wall Street and, by extension, the probable GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. No doubt his fans will eat it up. But you don't win arguments with such transparent partisanship.

Note to Krugman: Gordon Gekko is not a real person and he is not running for President of the United States, no matter how much you wish he were.

Cranky, Troop-Snubbing Obama?

Getting play on some web sites is a scene in new book about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, "The Operators" depicts President (then candidate) Obama as being aloof and cranky while visiting the troops in Baghdad.
After the talk, out of earshot from the soldiers and diplomats, he starts to complain. He starts to act very un-Obamalike, according to a U.S. embassy official
who helped organize the trip in Baghdad.
He’s asked to go out to take a few more pictures with soldiers and embassy staffers. He’s asked to sign copies of his book. “He didn’t want to take pictures with any more soldiers; he was complaining about it,” a State Department official tells me. “Look, I was excited to meet him. I wanted to like him. Let’s just say the scales fell from my eyes after I did. These are people over here who’ve been fighting the war, or working every day for the war effort, and he didn’t want to take fucking pictures with them?"
The book is authored by Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings, whose article The Runaway General resulted in the firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Afghanistan. A later investigation by the Pentagon cleared McChrystal of any violation of military conduct. Hastings has been accused of poor sourcing and taking comments out of context for dramatic effect.

So that said, color me skeptical about his story on Obama blowing off the troops. He quotes a single unnamed State Department official who voices disappointment with the President.

"He didn't want to take pictures with any more soldiers." Sounds like he posed, at least, for some. How many? Did he have someplace else he was supposed to be? Was he complaining about having to pose for pictures or about the lack of time he had to do it? Who knows? But the story reads like a cheap shot.

He may not be the biggest fan of the military whose ever sat in the Oval Office but he seems to understand his duty to be gracious towards and respect the troops.

Enough is Enough in Chester

The Chester Upland School District is broke and in a shambles. Reforms have been tried and failed for two decades. It's time to try something else. My print column is up.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chester Upland Wants More of Your Money

Chester Upland sues the state for it own fiscal incompetence. Somehow I don't see this as the answer to the district's prayers.

Email of the Week

Here's a response to Wednesday's column on Rick Santorum, apparently from non-heterosexual male:
Gil, my problem isn’t with how he chose to grieve, my problem is that he equates being gay as the same classification as incest and bestiality.  
OK, I get how Santorum comparing homosexuality to incest or bestiality would be offensive gay people. But ...
He and other Republican candidates run ads and literally ask people if they really want to live in a place where “homosexuals can serve openly.” Apparently being a candidate for the president provides executive privilege and an exemption from discrimination.
Huh? Well, the government does exempt itself from certain discrimination laws that it requires mere citizens to obey. That's true.
If you’re a candidate and do not support “gay marriage” or “civil union’s” – o.k.  State it just that way.  But while we are on the subject of this orientation as a “choice,” then I would like to add this.  I cannot have children.  Gay people do NOT create nor recruit gay persons.  So it is heterosexuals who CHOOSE to have children.  Then I feel that I should not have to pay for their choice to educate and populate a geographical region and should be tax exempt from doing so.
Well, I know lots of gay people who actually do have children. But one way to avoid having to pay taxes in a particular geographical region is to move out of it. Otherwise, you're pretty much stuck with whatever taxes the elected officials there choose to impose on you.
Ask Mr. Santorum how he would answer this.  It’s taxation w/o my representation.
That's an odd way of putting it but I say, YOU ask him. I think Rick Santorum would look at me funny if I asked him that.
Republican Candidates are scary….
Not as scary as some voters.

The Mullah's Favorite Filmmaker

Guess who is the most popular movie director in Tehran. Come on, guess. It's this guy.

Read more about it here.

All Stars in Any Era

Meet the Cannon Street All-Stars.

They have a story worth telling and remembering. In the space of 750 words, George Will tells it splendidly.

America Loves Tebow

For the moment, Tim Tebow is America's favorite athlete. Atheists hate that.

As Gen. George S. Patton (or at least the screen version) said: "Americans love a winner." But also: "All glory is fleeting."

UPDATE: Former NFL QB Fran Tarkenton, the son of a devout Pentecostal minister, has his own take on Tebowmania.
Although faith has been a part of football so long, a player like Mr. Tebow can still be extremely controversial among fans and pundits. But seriously, isn't it refreshing that the chatter around the NFL is about a great athlete with great character who says and does all the right things and is a relentless leader for his team—and not about more arrests and bad behavior from our presumptive "heroes?"
          Tim Tebow is the story of this football season, and a great story it is.
Just not the "Greatest Story Ever Told."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Our Postmodern President

Victor Davis Hanson exposes the current occupier of the oval office as an ends justifies the means politician.
Whether Congress is, or is not, in recess, or whether wealthy bondholders should be paid back before working-class union pensioners, or whether some company should or should not be allowed to drill in the Gulf — these and others are moral and political, but not necessarily legal, issues. To the degree that he can, on any given challenge Obama assesses the politics of favoring his constituency of the “poor” and “middle class,” and then uses the necessary legal gymnastics post facto to offer the veneer of lawfulness.

Obama in Wonderland II